Pakistani and Indian troops have been at loggerheads on the border in Jammu and Kashmir for decades with both sides accusing each other of ceasefire violations and killing their civilians.
India has consistently blamed the Pakistani army for providing cover to help terrorists sneak into Jammu and Kashmir and carry out attacks.
The ties between the two countries have further deteriorated after the abrogation of Article 370 in August last year, which stripped Jammu and Kashmir of its special status, with both sides exchanging fire and regularly involving in cross-border shelling.
From January 1 to September 7, there have been 3,186 ceasefire violations by Pakistan along the LoC, the Indian government told Parliament. This is the highest in the last 17 years.
Moreover, there were also 242 incidents of cross-border firing (from January 1 to August 31), in the Jammu region, along the international border with Pakistan, Shripad Naik, Minister of State for Defence said in the Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of Parliament.
However, this time the Indian Army has earned the praise of the Pakistani people as they repatriated two minor girls from the Pakistan-administered Kashmir who were taken into custody after they inadvertently crossed the LoC.
Laiba Zabair, 17, and Sana Zabair, 13, are both residents of village Abbasspur tehsil in Kahuta. They were found on the Indian side of the LoC and were detained by the Indian Army.
The Indian Army assured that a “complete restraint” was exercised to prevent any harm to the minor girls. The two girls left home after a squabble with family members although the disappearance report lodged by the brother didn’t mention any such thing, the Pakistani local media reported.
Abbaspur Assistant Commissioner Syed Tasawwar Hussain Kazmi conducted an inquiry into the incident and told Dawn that there was a “heartbreaking story” behind it. He revealed that the father of the two girls had passed away six months ago, following which the family was left “destitute and that would trigger squabbles at their small home almost daily.”
He further remarked that it’s because of this miserable situation they took this step and that society as a whole is responsible for what they have done.
The two girls spent less than 24 hours in custody and were released at the Chakan Da Bagh crossing point near Poonch district in Jammu and Kashmir in the presence of Pakistan army officials. The two sisters received gifts from the Indian Army as a goodwill gesture before their repatriation.
“We lost our way and accidentally crossed the Indian border into India. We were afraid that the soldiers would beat us,” Laiba Zubair said in a video message after returning home.
“But they all get along very well with us. They give us food and a place to stay. Everyone was constantly trying to get us back. Their use was very good. At first, we thought they would not let us go home, but today we are going back home. They are really good.”
#WATCH | We lost our way & entered Indian territory. We feared that Army personnel will beat us up but they treated us in a very good manner. We had thought that they would not allow us to go back but today we are being sent home. People are very good here: Laiba Zabair https://t.co/u6DXgPEf7C pic.twitter.com/2rkf8hOdxk
— ANI (@ANI) December 7, 2020
Both the countries have accused each other of targeting civilians in the region. In June, the Indian Army killed nine militants in South Kashmir’s Shopian district, all belonging to Hizbul Mujahideen outfit. Pakistan condemned the killing as “extra-judicial killings of Kashmiri youths in acts of state terrorism” by Indian forces.
— XARKAR TIPU AFRIDI (@XarkarTipu) December 8, 2020
Two minor girls (Laiba zubair, Sana zubair) from POK accidently crossed the border near J&K. #IndianArmy sent them back with sweets and gifts. What a wonderful gesture! Setting and example.
#India 🇮🇳❤️ pic.twitter.com/P469etI70S
— 𝓤𝓼𝓶𝓪𝓷 𝓐𝓷𝓼𝓪𝓻𝓲 (@Mr_UsmanAnsari) December 9, 2020
“It is the responsibility of the world community to urgently act and protect the Kashmiris from the wanton killings and other brutalities being inflicted on them by the Indian occupation forces. Pakistan will continue to call for holding India accountable for its crimes against the Kashmiri people,” Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesperson said in a press release.