20:33 GMT +317 November 2019
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    A resident shows a riddled metal suitcase as he stands under a damaged roof of a house in Salkhala village, in Neelum Valley

    India Offers Pakistan to Come Under White Flag and Take Bodies of Their Troopers Amid Kashmir Chaos

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    Tensions in the troubled region disputed by the two nuclear nations flared up again after Indian and Pakistani forces clashed along the Line of Control, accusing each other of breaking the ceasefire on Tuesday. The Indian Army has deployed reinforcements in the region and ordered tourists and pilgrims to return home, citing a terror threat.

    The Indian Army has told Pakistani forces they could retrieve the dead bodies of troopers, killed in recent border clashes, by approaching under a white flag, the outlet India Today reports. The Pakistan Army has not responded yet.

    According to the Indian military, a so-called Border Action Team, or BAT (a name used for units of Pakistani special forces and militants, tasked with missions along the Line of Control in the disputed region) tried to infiltrate the area on the night of 31 July.

    "A BAT attempt was made on one of the forward posts in Keran sector [in Kupwara district] and foiled by alert troops resulting in neutralising of five to seven Pakistani regulars/terrorists", defence spokesman Col Rajesh Kalia said, as cited by the outlet.

    Following the incident, the Indian authorities warned of terror threats in the region and issued an order for tourists and pilgrims, travelling to one of the Hindu shrines located in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

    The Home Department on Friday said, "Keeping in view the latest intelligence inputs of terror threats, with specific targeting of the Amarnath Yatra, and given the prevailing security situation in the Kashmir Valley, in the interest of safety and security of the tourists and Amarnath Yatris, it is advised that they may curtail their stay in the valley immediately and take necessary measures to return as soon as possible".

    It comes amid the peak months of a Hindu pilgrimage, which attracts thousands of people every year. India's military head in Kashmir, Lieutenant General Kanwal Jeet Singh Dhillon, said a sniper gun and a mine with Pakistani markings had been found on the pilgrimage route.

    Hindu pilgrims treck through mountains to reach the Amarnath cave shrine where they worship an ice stalagmite that Hindus believe to be the symbol of Lord Shiva, at Sangam Top in the Kashmir region, July 6, 2019
    Hindu pilgrims treck through mountains to reach the Amarnath cave shrine where they worship an ice stalagmite that Hindus believe to be the symbol of Lord Shiva, at Sangam Top in the Kashmir region, July 6, 2019

    To facilitate the departure, Air India has reduced ticket prices for the Srinagar-Delhi route. The Daily Express cites a senior government official from Kashmir as saying that the order triggered panic and prompted most of the 20,000 pilgrims, tourists, as well as more than 200,000 labourers, to depart.

    For its part, the Pakistani authorities have also issued an advisory for civilians in the region, warning against Indian Army aggression. Pakistan also evacuated around 50 Chinese nationals who were working on a dam project along the confluence of the Neelum and Jhelum rivers due to heavy shelling.

    According to the Pakistani military statement, the Indian Army on the night of 30-31 July targeted citizens including women and children in Neelum Valley using cluster ammunition. As a result, the military claims, two people died and eleven more were injured. The Indian Army has denied the accusations of using prohibited weapons, news agency ANI reported.

    New Clash Between Two Nuclear Powers

    The recent escalation along the LoC between the Indian and Pakistani controlled parts of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir has been marked by intermittent firing since 8 July, the mobilisation of 10,000 troops into the valley and rising death toll among civilians on both sides. Earlier this year, tensions flared up after a 14 February terrorist attack on an Indian military convoy in Kashmir in which over 40 servicemen were killed. The Pakistan-based terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammad allegedly claimed responsibility for the attack.

    Following the attack, India carried out an airstrike in the Pakistani-controlled part of Kashmir, targeting what it claimed was a training camp belonging to the terrorist group. India has blamed Islamabad for supporting terrorists and having a "direct hand" in a deadly attack on the Indian paramilitary police force in Jammu and Kashmir, something which Pakistan denies.


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    Kashmir, pilgrims, Pakistan, India
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