India denies Pakistan civilians targetted; protests its civilian deaths

New Delhi, Nov 3 (IANS) India on Thursday rejected Pakistan’s claim that Indian defence forces targeted civilians across the border and said a strong protest has been lodged against the Pakistan troops in Jammu and Kashmir targeting Indian civilians.

Indian security forces neither initiate ceasefire violation nor target civilians, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.

“They (Indian forces) retaliate in a very calibrated and restrained manner when either their defensive posts or personnel are targeted or cover fire is provided by the Pakistani Army to allow infiltrators cross the Line of Control. We completely reject Pakistan’s allegations of unprovoked firing by our forces,” Swarup said.

“I would like to remind that approximately two-thirds of ceasefire violations this year by Pakistan have taken place in the last five weeks,” he said.

Swarup also said, “We have lodged a strong protest with Pakistan on the killing of our civilians in shelling by Pakistan forces. In fact, in several districts along the International Border and Line of Control, normal life has been affected; people have been displaced and over 100 schools closed.”

Pakistan on Monday accused Indian troops of killing four civilians and wounding six others in cross-border fire.

In India, tens of thousands of border villagers in Jammu and Kashmir have been forced out of their homes and have taken shelter in makeshift accommodations due to Pakistan shelling. At least 19 persons, including 11 civilians, have been killed in the past few weeks.

Some 25,000 villagers are estimated to have left their houses in Jammu, Samba, Kathua, Rajouri and Poonch districts close to the International Border and the LoC that divides Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan.