SANA’A – According to the Pakistani Armed Forces, five Indian soldiers and three Pakistani forces were killed on Thursday in a cross-border shooting incident amidst heightened tensions between the two nations over the disputed Jammu and Kashmir region.
Major General Asif Ghafoor, spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, stated on Thursday that Indian troops stationed at the border had opened fire on Pakistan, killing three soldiers and three civilians. According to Ghafoor, the Pakistani defence forces responded to the attack by returning fire and killing a total of five Indian soldiers.
The Armed Forces of India have officially denied the reports, stating that no casualties took place.
The situation between Pakistan and India has become increasingly tense in recent weeks, after the Hindutva ultranationalist government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi revoked the autonomous status of the disputed Jammu and Kashmir region.
According to the newly passed laws, Kashmir loses its autonomous status and its rights to a regional government and parliament, and will instead be directly controlled by the central government in New Delhi. The new regulations also allow and even encourage migration of Indians from other states to Jammu and Kashmir in order to settle there. This measure is widely seen as an attempt to change the demography of the majority Islamic region, with high-ranking members of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party openly calling for “Hindu settlements” to be set up.
Together with the revocation measure, India also airlifted thousands of extra soldiers into Kashmir, adding to the over half a million troops that were already stationed there. Telephone lines, internet connections and television cable were also nearly completely cut, making news from the region increasingly hard to get out.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has reacted furiously to New Delhi’s new policies, comparing them to practices taken by Nazi Germany, and vowing that Pakistan will support the Kashmiri resistance.
Jammu and Kashmir has been a disputed territory between India and Pakistan ever since the two countries’ independence in 1947. Whereas most states within both countries opted to join either of the two in a referendum, such democratic option was never opted to Kashmir. This has led to numerous uprisings and cases of unrest in the Indian-held part of Kashmir, and even three wars being fought between India and Pakistan directly.