In what can be regarded as a dramatic increase in the enmity between the neighbours, Pakistani commandos killed two Indian soldiers and beheaded another one at Machil in the Jammu and Kashmir border shared by both the countries on November 22, 2016. Incidentally, as has become the norm in these incidents, the Pakistani soldiers had entered the Indian side of the border also known as the Line of Control (LoC). The Indian Army has vowed to hit back, saying in a statement that there will be a heavy price to pay for what it sees as a cowardly act.
How did it happen?
The ambush happened when the soldiers were patrolling the Machil sector in northern Kashmir. The heinous act was perpetrated by Pakistan Army’s Border Action Team. It is easier for Pakistani soldiers to access posts in this sector because of the geographic proximity. They are also afforded an advantage because of the thick forests and the rugged landscape.
How has Pakistan reacted?
The Foreign Office of Pakistan has, as usual, denied knowledge of the incident and then stated that the reports were inauthentic and fabricated. During October, 2016, the body of Mandeep Singh – a 27-year-old sepoy – was mutilated by terrorists from Pakistan, who were then able to run back to the part of Kashmir occupied by Pakistan. The cover fire that Pakistan Army provided at the time made it easy for them to complete their escape. The Indian Army has said that this act reflects the barbaric nature of the various organizations – unsanctioned and sanctioned – in Pakistan.
Escalation in crossfire
Ever since September, 2016, when the Indian Army launched the surgical strikes in Uri, there has been an increase in cross-border fire in complete violation of ceasefire regulations. While the initiator in the mindless cross-border fire has been Pakistan, it is India that has replied with stern emphasis on aggression. This has led to the death of 18 soldiers including five belonging to the Border Security Force (BSF). As per reports from India, the army has killed 29 soldiers from Pakistan in retaliatory firing. It needs to be remembered in this context that following the Uri Attacks, India carried out surgical strikes in other parts of the LoC and demolished areas it suspected will be used by the terrorists to launch a series of attacks at a later time.
Is Indian Army ready?
Before we answer this question, it needs to be understood that the border of any country is impossible to be defended perfectly by its army. As is the case with sectors such as Machil, the geographical factors of an area can make it tricky for the soldiers. It is always better if you have more men and more advanced equipment.
India is a third-world country with a significant amount of expenditure in defence, which has already left in lurch critical areas like health, education, and employment. Now, if more money has to be spent in this regard the matters will only escalate as one may imagine and therefore, its situation is far from being desirable.
The Indian Army is doing its best to stop such attacks from happening, but it is not always possible to stop neighbours who are forever willing to bang down your doors and take you down in spite of their own problems. India always has paid in kind to such instances, but even then such killings repeat themselves. So if prevention is the sole criterion of judgment here, perhaps Indian Army is not ready (it is really hard to see which army is), but it has shown with repeated successful retaliations that it is capable of acting as and when the situation demands.
Indians who died in Pakistani Prisons