Two Indian soldiers and three Pakistani soldiers died this month near the Line of Control (LoC) that divides Kashmir between the two countries in the worst bout of violence since both nations declared a ceasefire in November 2003. The recent bout of skirmishes began Jan. 8 with the killing of two Indian soldiers, including one who was beheaded.
More than a 100 people were reportedly stranded on both sides of the de facto border after Islamabad suspended travel between Rawalakot on its side of the LoC and Poonch district in India on Jan. 11, citing simmering tensions, NDTV reported. Some local news reports stated that commercial traffic would resume Tuesday.
Tensions on the ground seemed to have abated. In keeping with tradition, Indian and Pakistani troops exchanged sweets at Chakan-da-Bag along the Line of Control as a goodwill gesture on the eve of India’s 64th Republic Day on Saturday.
At Suchetgarh on the international border, about 40 km west of Jammu, the Border Security Force and Pakistan Rangers also exchanged sweets, IANS reported.
On Jan. 21, officials in India-administered region of Kashmir issued an advisory to residents to be prepared for a potential nuclear, biological or chemical war by building bomb-proof basements or bunkers and stocking up of essential supplies.
Local officials maintained that the warning was only a part of a routine campaign to educate the public and that the newspaper advisory was “not connected with anything else.”
Meanwhile, talks between the water administrators of India and Pakistan, scheduled to be held in Islamabad during Jan. 28-29, have been put off until a later date.
Reports in sections of the Pakistani media said the cancellation of the talks was linked to the recent tensions. However, The Economic Times in New Delhi said the move was linked to the retirement of Water Resources Secretary D.V. Singh, who is set to step down at the end of this month.