Attack on Indian Army Base in Kashmir Spurs Heated Remarks
On Saturday, a militant group attacked the Indian army base in Kashmir, killing 10 people. The firefight was arguably the most devastating militant attack in months in Kashmir, and in the aftermath of the attack, tension has mounted between India and Pakistan.
Violence broke out as militants stormed through the relatively peaceful city of Jammu, the second largest city in the disputed region between India and Pakistan. The attack supposedly began at 4:55 am on Saturday morning, when the militants stationed themselves inside a complex for soldiers’ families and began firing at the Indian army.
According to Chief of Police Shesh Paul Vaid, out of the 10 people who died, “five were soldiers, one was a civilian, and four were terrorists.”
In a press conference two days after the attack, Indian Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman attributed the attack to Pakistan, specifically the Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad. Indian officials stated that intercepted communications tied the group to the attack.
India has accused Pakistan of supplying training and weapons to militant groups via the Line of Control (LoC) which has divided the region for years. Sitharaman’s comments only add to the charges.
“Pakistan is expanding the arc of terror to the areas south of Pir Panjal ranges and resorting to ceasefire violations to assist infiltration,” Sitharaman said on Monday. “Pakistan will pay for this misadventure,” Sitharam continued.
Before Sitharaman’s press conference, Pakistan’s foreign ministry released a statement exonerating itself from any wrongdoing. The statement accused India of “making irresponsible statements and leveling unfounded allegations…”. Pakistani officials have also stated that the nation is “fully committed and capable of defending itself against any act of aggression.”
Kashmir has been a source of resentment between India and Pakistan since 1947, ever since they gained independence from Britain. Disputes over control of the Kashmir region have progressed into two wars between the nations, and a victor has yet to claim complete authority over the territory. Today, an estimated half million soldiers are stationed in the Indian-controlled area of Kashmir.
In 1989, militants started becoming increasingly more attached to the Kashmir cause, calling for Kashmiri independence, or a merge with Pakistan. Since the outbreak of the insurgency, tens of thousands of people have died in the resulting conflict.
A ceasefire was signed in 2003 between India and Pakistan in Kashmir that temporarily suspended violence in the LoC region, but recently, there has been an influx of attacks. The largest attack within 14 years occurred in the September of 2016, when militants raided an Indian military base in Uri, killing 18 Indian soldiers.
It has been 71 years since conflicts over Kashmir first began, but given the recent strain in the relationship between India and Pakistan, their fight over Kashmir may be more relevant now than ever before.