01:08 GMT01 March 2021
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    Tensions between India and Pakistan over Kashmir have remained high since February, when India launched airstrikes into Pakistani territory targeting the militants believed responsible for a terrorist attack on Indian security personnel. The strikes sparked a series of skirmishes, and regular exchanges of fire along the fragile Line of Control.

    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced that “sinister plans” to “spread hate” and oppose development efforts in sensitive areas in Jammu and Kashmir would never succeed.

    “Our brothers and sisters in Kashmir want good governance and [this] proves the dictum that the power of development is stronger than the might of bullets and bombs,” Modi said, speaking in a radio broadcast on Sunday, The Economic times has reported.

    “It is clear that those who wish to spread hatred en route to development will never succeed in their sinister plans,” Modi added.

    Citing the participation of villagers from remote Kashmiri villages in the ‘Back to the Village’ outreach and development programme, launched last month, the prime minister suggested that the programme’s success “shows how keen the people of Kashmir are to join the mainstream of development.”

    On Thursday, India’s Ministry of Home Affairs announced a decision to deploy 100 additional companies of armed police forces, numbering some 10,000 troops, to ‘strengthen counterinsurgency efforts’ and help ‘maintain law and order in the state’. The troops are in addition to the 40,000 Indian paramilitary forces already on the ground in the region.

    Mehbooba Mufti, the former Chief Minister of Kashmir, blasted the fresh deployment, saying it has only “created fear and psychosis amongst people,” given that there is already “no dearth of security forces in Kashmir.”

    A Pakistan army soldier stands guard at hilltop post at a forward area on the Line of Control (LOC), that divides Kashmir between Pakistan and India. (File)
    © AP Photo / Anjum Naveed)
    A Pakistan army soldier stands guard at hilltop post at a forward area on the Line of Control (LOC), that divides Kashmir between Pakistan and India. (File)

    Last week, one Indian soldier was killed following an exchange of fire along the Line of Control, with Indian and Pakistani forces accusing one another of violating the fragile ceasefire. Flare-ups of fighting in the region, which has been the main source of virtually every Indian-Pakistani conflict since 1947, have increased dramatically since the February crisis, caused by a terrorist attack which killed dozens of Indian security personnel in Kashmir.

    Earlier this month, efforts by US President Donald Trump to serve as a “mediator or arbitrator” in the Kashmir conflict were “categorically” rejected by Delhi, with Indian officials denying that Prime Minister Modi requested the US president to intervene.

    Last week, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan admitted that some 40,000 militants linked to 40 groups were based on Pakistani soil, and confirmed, for the first time, that Pakistan-based al-Qaeda affiliated militants were responsible for the Pulwama attack which killed 40 Indian security personnel and led India to respond with the cross-border airstrikes which sparked the current tensions.


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