The Indian army has been given a free hand to deal with “any attempt by Pakistani troops to disturb peace in the country”, India’s home minister Rajnath Singh has claimed.
“Indian forces will not count bullets while replying to any provocation by Pakistan,” Singh said on Sunday as he warned Islamabad against any ‘misadventure’.
His statement came a day after two soldiers were killed and four others injured after militants attacked an army convoy in Indian-occupied Kashmir (IOK). The clashes have become more frequent since the killing of popular rebel leader Burhan Wani in July last year which sparked widespread unrest.
“Pakistan has been making repeated efforts to disturb the peace and tranquillity in Jammu and Kashmir… our forces will give an appropriate reply to such provocations,” the Press Trust of India quoted Singh as saying.
Anti-India sentiment runs deep in the predominantly Muslim Kashmir valley, where most people favour independence or a merger with Pakistan. Separatist groups have been fighting Indian forces in Kashmir for decades. Apart from armed militant groups, the roughly 500,000 Indian soldiers deployed in Kashmir are regularly involved in clashes with civilians, fuelling growing resentment against New Delhi.
Relations between India and Pakistan have plummeted since a deadly attack on an Indian army base in the disputed region of Kashmir in September 2016 which New Delhi blamed on Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed. There have since been repeated outbreaks of cross-border firing, with both sides reporting deaths and injuries.
This article originally appeared on PTI.