NEW DELHI: The Pakistan Army has deployed heavy artillery regiments close to the Line of Control with India, top government officials said.
The regiments were moved close to the Line of Control (LOC) following the abrogation of Article 370 (special status for erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir) on August 5. Officials said that Pakistan brought in heavy artillery guns keeping in mind that tensions at the border could grow after the move. It currently has about 16 artillery regiments, including mountain and medium, comprising of over 6,000 troops along the LoC.
Pakistan has been regularly indulging in ‘calibre escalation’- from using mortars to artillery guns- while violating the ceasefire along the LoC. It has targeted Indian Army posts and civilian areas with heavy artillery, causing casualties. The Indian Army, too, has responded in equal measure. So far there have been over 2,472 ceasefire violations along the LoC this year, the highest in the last two years.
Pakistan has also deployed more number of its elite troops, the Special Service Group (SSG), along the LoC. There are at least two SSG battalions, each comprising of at least 700 commandos. Officials explained that SSG commandos with terrorists form part of Border Action Teams (BAT) to carry out cross-border attacks on Indian patrols and posts. On Thursday night, a group of Pakistani army troops crossed the LoC and fired at an Indian Army post, killing a soldier, in the Krishna Ghati sector. Officials said that it could have been an infiltration attempt to push in terrorists.
Pakistan has deployed close to 80,000 troops along the LoC. This comprises over 30 infantry units, nearing about 30,000 troops, around 25 Mujahid battalions consisting of about 17,000 troops, armoured (tanks) battalion, at least one air defence unit of 1,400 troops, close to four division headquarters and around 9 brigade headquarters.
“Pakistan earlier didn’t consider its border with India as a volatile one like it does with the ones with Afghanistan and Iran, where it is constructing fencing and its troops have been regularly attacked. However, its outlook on its eastern border changed following the 2016 surgical strikes and the fire assaults conducted by the Indian Army in retaliation to unprovoked cross-border firing and terrorist infiltration attempts,” an official explained.
India, on the other hand, has over 1 lakh troops deployed along the LoC. This largely consists of infantry units, Rashtriya Rifles units and artillery regiments that are around three times more than what Pakistan has deployed. While it has not placed too many of its special forces troops along the LoC like Pakistan has, there are components in the union territory of J&K. The large number of troops along the LoC is “due to the counter-infiltration grid and for ensuring dominance of the LoC,” an official explained.
The army strengthened its counter-infiltration system along the LoC this year by deploying new surveillance systems and additional troops. Additional tiers have been added to the system, which also consists of an anti-infiltration obstacle system and weapon platforms.
The army has close to 2.5 lakh troops deployed in the hinterland, which is in the union territories of J&K and Ladakh. No new troops have been inducted, except for the companies of the Central Armed Police Forces around August 5. The strength mainly comprises of Rashtriya Rifles units that are engaged in counter-terrorism, infantry units, armoured battalions and mechanised units.