File Photo/PTI
India-Pak Flag Meeting in Poonch on Jan 14
India and Pakistan will hold a flag meeting of Brigade Commanders in Poonch sector tomorrow to de-escalate tension along the Line of Control even as the two sides traded fire overnight after a bid by infiltrators to sneak in was foiled.

At the flag meeting, the Indian side is expected to strongly protest the Pakistani intrusion and the beheading of a soldier and demand the return of the severed head believed to have been carried by Pakistani army regulars as a trophy after the killing of two soldiers on January eight.

 "Brigade Commanders' flag meeting is being held tomorrow at Chakan-Da-Bagh LoC point in Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir at noon," Public Relation Officer (PRO), Defence, Col R K Palta told PTI.

Pakistan agreed for the flag meeting in a communication through a hotline in the sector, he said, adding, "We had sought the flag meeting of the brigade commanders of the two sides."

The Indian Army had sent a hotline message to the Pakistan Army on January 11 and asked for a flag meeting to discuss the issues of brutal killing of two jawans by Pakistani troops, reportedly belonging to 29 Baloch Regiment, and increasing incidents of firing and ceasefire violations in the Poonch sector.

Pakistan's High Commissioner Salman Bashir has already been summoned in Delhi by Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai who lodged a strong protest over Pakistani Army action in which the two soldiers were killed and their bodies were subjected to "barbaric and inhuman mutilation".

Confidence Building Measures (CMBs) of cross-LoC trade and travel are also expected to come up for discussion during the flag meeting.

Pakistan has suspended cross-LoC trade and travel at Chakan-Da-Bagh crossing point in Poonch sector since Thursday and Friday respectively.

The overnight exchange of fire along the LoC in Krishnagati in Poonch sector involved small arms and mortars and continued intermittently till 0200 hours today.

"Movement of 6 to 7 persons was detected close to LoC opposite Krishnagati sub-sector in Poonch sector around 2145 hours yesterday," Col Palta said.

Troops, guarding the borderline with Pakistan, opened fire on them, he said, adding after that heavy fire was exchanged between two sides.

After about half-an-hour of heavy exchanges, the group of "suspected persons" disappeared from the scene, Palta said maintaining that the exchange of fire reduced thereafter but it went on till early this morning.

Sources said it is suspected that either a group of militants or a Border Action Team (BAT) of Pakistan could have been undertaking movement close to LoC opposite Krishnagati sub-sector.

The fresh exchange of fire came after a lull of 48 hours. Pakistani troops had violated the ceasefire by firing mortars on Indian posts along the LoC in Krishnagati sector on Thursday. The Indian side had effectively retaliated, the spokesman said.

The January eight killing of two Indian soldiers by Pakistani troops after intruding into Indian territory was viewed by India as a "highly provocative" attack.

Tomorrow's Brigade Commander-level flag meeting is the second one in the last six months between the two sides.

A Brigade Commanders' meeting was held at Chakan-Da-Bagh LoC point on June 23 following the killing of two Indian soldiers and injuries to four other jawans in ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops, besides closure of the cross- LoC trade and travel via Chakan-Da-Bagh.

The two jawans were killed and the four others were injured in the firing by Pakistan troops between June 11 to June 16 in the Poonch sector.

A commander-level flag meeting is held to sort out the differences between the two sides.

Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed 71 incidents of cross- border firing and ceasefire violations along the Indo-Pak border in which seven persons, including four security personnel were killed and 15 others were injured last year.

 There were 51 cases of cross-border firing and ceasefire violations in 2011 as compared to 44 cases registered in 2010 and 28 in 2009.
Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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