Antony: Army free to respond at LoC

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Defence minister A.K. Antony on Monday said the “armed forces have the freedom to respond to the developing situation appr-opriately” on the Line of Control bordering Pakista-n-occupied Kashmir. This statement virtually ensures a free hand for the Army to retaliate effectively in the face of provocation by the Pakistan Amy. Army Chief Gen. Bikram Singh had said in January this year that he had directed his commanders to retaliate and “hit back” without crossing the LoC if fired upon by the Pakistanis.
Sources said firing on the LoC between the two armies could well escalate as Pakistani troops seem determined to violate the ceasefire with impunity. The Indian Army is therefore expected to hit back “at a time and place of its choosing” and send a strong message to Pakistan’s top brass.
Relations between the two nations have come under strain after the ambush and killing of five Indian soldiers in the Poonch sector after Pakistan Army commandos and terrorists crossed the LoC in a daring operation, and killed Indian soldiers on Indian territory.
On the sidelines of the ceremony in Kochi to launch India’s first indigenous aircraft-carrier Vikrant, Mr Antony, however, refused to comment over the recent controversy over his initial statement in Parliament. He said since Parliament was in session, he didn’t want to say anything more.

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