MUZAFFARABAD: The Pakistan Army shot down an Indian ‘spy drone’ along the restive Line of Control on Tuesday, a day after India’s ruthless shelling from across the LoC left a woman dead and nine others injured in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
“Pakistan Army troops shot down Indian Spy Quadcopter in Bagh sector along [the] Line of Control,” Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor announced in a tweet at 9.56pm.
The tweet included picture of the spy drone, but the ISPR chief did not give any more details, at least immediately, as to how deep the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) had intruded into Pakistani airspace. However, in the same tweet, he said: “Not even a quadcopter will be allowed to cross [the] LoC, In Shaa Allah.”
It was a clear reference to the claim made by the Indian government more than two years ago that their army commandos had carried out surgical strikes in AJK, on Sept 28, 2016, days after an attack on an army base in Uri in held Kashmir had left 20 Indian soldiers dead.
Not only that Pakistan had rejected the claim outright as a figment of imagination, the release of the so-called surgical strike videos had also triggered scathing attacks from the Indian opposition parties, alleging that the Bharatiya Janata Party government was using it for political gains.
The very claim was recapitulated by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an exclusive interview to ANI news agency on Tuesday, which was carried by all Indian media outlets.
Interestingly, only last week Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad had warned that the Modi government could carry out a surgical strike inside Pakistan in 2019 “to distract people and get political gains ahead of the general elections in India”.
The heavily militarised LoC, which splits the disputed Himalayan region of Jammu and Kashmir between Pakistan and India, has been frequently witnessing skirmishes and artillery duels between the rival armies, in a serious breach of a ceasefire agreement signed by them in November 2003.
Tuesday’s shooting down of the spy drone came a day after Indian troops had resorted to ruthless shelling of civilian population and installations in the Neelum Valley, leaving a 27-year old married woman dead and nine others, including two police constables, injured.
On the whole, the year 2018 saw 28 civilians dead and some 172 wounded in different areas along the LoC in AJK in ceasefire violations by the Indian army.
According to military sources, it was not the first time an Indian spy drone had been shot down in AJK.
On Oct 27, 2017, Pakistan Army shooters had brought down a quadcopter in Rakhchikri sector, falling in Poonch and Haveli districts of AJK. On Nov 19, 2016, a UAV was shot down at the Aagahi Post in the same sector when it had intruded 60 metres into the Pakistani airspace. Even before that, a similar reconnaissance drone was downed for intruding into Pakistani side in Bhimber, the southernmost AJK district, on July 15, 2015.
According to the sources, Indian military uses quadcopter for aerial photography of Pakistani posts along the LoC as part of its intelligence-gathering operations and target selection before carrying out cross-LoC shelling.
Published in Dawn, January 2nd, 2019