JEHANGIR ALI | 27 FEBRUARY, 2019
Pakistani Jets Enter Indian Air Space, Drop Bombs, Tensions Soar
Airports under tight security, flights suspended, villagers evacuated
SRINAGAR: Amid simmering tensions in Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistani fighter jets today reportedly breached Indian airspace along the Line of Control and dropped bombs at deserted places before returning to their bases. There were no reports of any casualties so far, officials said.
“Pakistani jets on Wednesday violated Indian air space, entered Nowshera sector in Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri district,” officials said, according to the PTI news agency.
According to reports, the incursions occurred along the LoC at Laam, Jhanjar, Keeri and Nadian in Rajouri district and Hamirpur in Poonch district. Both districts share the Line of Control with Pakistan administered Kashmir.
“They dropped bombs at some deserted places. There were no injuries or casualties,” police sources said.
Following the incursion, authorities have “suspended” the airspace over Jammu and Kashmir due to “security reasons,” reports said. The news agency ANI reported that airports in Leh, Jammu, Srinagar and Pathankot have been placed on high alert.
“Airspace has been suspended due to security reasons. Many commercial flights flying out of Srinagar have been cancelled due to the tensions on border,” an official at Srinagar airport told The Citizen.
“We are exploring our options. Security installations are on high alert in the state. For us the priority is to ensure calm in Kashmir,” a senior J&K Police officer said.
In a statement, Pakistan’s foreign office said that the strikes across the LoC were carried out “within Pakistani airspace.”
“This was not a retaliation to continued Indian belligerence. Pakistan has therefore, taken strikes at non military target, avoiding human loss and collateral damage. Sole purpose being to demonstrate our right, will and capability for self defence. We have no intention of escalation, but are fully prepared to do so if forced into that paradigm,” the statement said.
“India has been trying to establish what they call ‘a new normal’, a thinly veiled term for committing acts of aggression on whatever pretext they wish on a given day. If India is striking at so called terrorist backers without a shred of evidence, we also retain reciprocal rights to retaliate against elements that enjoy Indian patronage while carrying out acts of terror in Pakistan. We do not wish to go down that route and wish that India gives peace a chance, to resolve issues like a mature democratic nation,” the statement added.
Tensions have been building in Jammu and Kashmir after IAF jets struck a suspected Jaish-e-Mohammad camp in Balakot in Pakistan administered Kashmir yesterday.
As news of the IAF strikes trickled through, authorities evacuated dozens of village near the Line of Control following reports of ceasefire violations. Officials said schools situated within 5 km of the Line of Control have also been ordered to remain closed in view of the escalating tensions.
Last night, the armies of both countries shelled each other's posts along the Line of Control in Rajouri district. According to reports five Army soldiers were wounded when Pakistan fired mortar shells and missiles at Indian posts in several areas across the LoC.
The district magistrates of Rajouri and Poonch have ordered government as well as private schools within a five-km radius of the LoC to remain shut today as a “precautionary measure”.
The situation is tense on the LoC in Kashmir’s Uri sector as well, where ceasefire violations were reported on Tuesday night and shelling took place on the forward posts on Wednesday.
Intense shelling was going on at multiple places along the Line of Control when this report was filed.
Meanwhile, two Indian Air Force pilots are feared dead after a fighter jet crashed in an open field in central Kashmir’s Budgam district today morning. The cause of the crash was not immediately known. Going overboard, the Pakistani media, including News International, reported that the fighter jet was downed by the PAF in a “befitting” response. The area is located in the middle of the Kashmir Valley and many incidents of jets crashing have been reported from there in the past.