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Gunbattle kills 7 Indian Soldiers and 3 Militants at Nargota Army Camp in Jammu and Kashmir

There has been growing anger in India over terror attacks that have targeted installations of the armed forces in recent months

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Indian soldiers are seen outside an army camp at Nagrota, in the outskirts of Jammu, Nov. 29, 2016. VOA

New Delhi, November 29, 2016: Seven Indian soldiers and three attackers were killed when armed militants stormed an army base in the northern Jammu and Kashmir state early Tuesday.

The latest incident is likely to further heighten tensions between India and Pakistan, whose ties hit a low point following a September attack on an Indian army camp in the disputed Kashmir region.

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The soldiers and militants were killed in a gunbattle that raged for hours after the assailants lobbed grenades and opened fire while trying to enter the Nagrota base, a major army camp that is one of the four command centers in Kashmir.

Nagrota lies about 20 kilometers from Jammu on the main highway that connects the city with Srinagar. Jammu and Srinagar are Kashmir’s two main cities.

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Authorities said the militants took hostages, including two women and children, when they entered the building used by families of the army officers. They said three of the seven soldiers were killed in a rescue operation.

Defense Ministry spokesman Manish Mehta said, “Early morning the encounter took place. The situation is under control.”

The militants apparently managed to take positions inside the complex near an artillery unit.

No group has claimed responsibility.

An Indian soldier takes position outside an army camp at Nagrota, in the outskirts of Jammu, Nov. 29, 2016. VOA
An Indian soldier takes position outside an army camp at Nagrota, in the outskirts of Jammu, Nov. 29, 2016. VOA

A separate firefight also took place when Indian forces said they killed three militants trying to cross into India from Pakistan.

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There has been growing anger in India over terror attacks that have targeted installations of the armed forces in recent months.

India accuses Pakistan of supporting and financing the terrorists who mount the assaults, a charge Islamabad has strongly denied.

Nirmal Singh, the deputy chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, called the latest attack a signal of Pakistan’s frustration. “India is not a weak country. It will not be weakened and we will answer them in whatever language they understand,” he said.

The attack on the army camp comes after a five-day lull in intense cross-border firing along the Kashmir ‘Line of Control’ raised hopes that the two sides were trying to lower tensions.

Indian soldiers are seen outside an army camp at Nagrota, in the outskirts of Jammu.

The Kashmir border has seen heavy artillery and mortar firing since the Indian army said it mounted surgical strikes in Pakistan to take out militant camps after an attack on an army base in Uri that killed 20 soldiers.

Divided between the two countries, the Himalayan region of Kashmir is claimed in its entirety by both.

Diplomatic relations have also turned frosty, with both countries mounting charges of spying on diplomats and expelling them.

Sartaj Aziz, the foreign affairs adviser to Pakistan’s prime minister, is due to visit India next week for an Asian regional conference, but political observers say there are no signals that the two sides will use the opportunity to start a dialogue to lower tensions.

So far, no bilateral talks have been scheduled, according to Indian Foreign Ministry officials.

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“Our position has been very, very clear. We are for a dialogue with Pakistan, but talks and terror cannot go together. It is incumbent upon Pakistan to create the necessary environment for a conducive bilateral dialogue to happen,” the Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Vikas Swarup, told reporters recently. (VOA)

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BJP Hopeful of Getting its “First Chief Minister” in Jammu and Kashmir

Meanwhile, the BJP which shared power in the state with the PDP for three years from 2015 to 2018, did not get the top post

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BJP, Chief Minister, Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir has seen several Chief Ministers from Congress, National Conference and the People's Democratic Party (PDP). Flickr

The BJP is hopeful of getting its “first Chief Minister” in Jammu and Kashmir following the abrogation of Article 370 from the state two months ago, and the planned delimitation of the Assembly constituencies.

In an interview to IANS, Jammu and Kashmir Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Ravinder Raina said, “Jammu and Kashmir is a unit. And as President of BJP here, I am confident that we will have a BJP Chief Minister in Jammu and Kashmir very soon.”

Jammu and Kashmir has seen several Chief Ministers from Congress, National Conference and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

Meanwhile, the BJP which shared power in the state with the PDP for three years from 2015 to 2018, did not get the top post and had to accept the post of Deputy Chief Minister.

BJP, Chief Minister, Jammu and Kashmir
In an interview to IANS, Jammu and Kashmir Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Ravinder Raina said, Jammu and Kashmir is a unit. Flickr

When asked about the planned delimitation of constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir, Raina said, “The Election Commission will take a final call on the delimitation of the Assembly constituencies here.”

Raina said the poll panel will constitute a commission, which will be headed by either a retired Supreme Court or High Court judge.

The BJP leader pointed out that the commission which will be constituted for the delimitation process will follow all the standard prodecures.

The government abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution from Jammu and Kashmir on August 5 and also bifurcated the state into two union territories.

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Following the revocation of Article 370, the government has enforced a massive clampdown on communication and internet services in the state and deployed heavy security presence.

To a question over the clampdown for 60 days in the state, the state BJP chief said, “Soon after the abrogation of Article 370 the mobile connectivity and internet facility was suspended here.

“And now you are witnessing that the mobile connectivity and Wi-fi services are given a free hand and people are using those facilities here,” Raina said pointing towards the Wi-fi hotspots and connections provided to the citizens in Jammu.

Pointing towards the Kashmir valley, where only landlines connections and BSNL mobile networks are operating, he said, “In Kashmir valley too, the communication systems whether it is landline connections or BSNL mobile numbers are being operated and are given access.”

BJP, Chief Minister, Jammu and Kashmir
And as President of BJP here, I am confident that we will have a BJP Chief Minister in Jammu and Kashmir very soon. Pixabay

“But there are still apprehensions that Pakistani agents may use the internet facilities to defame and to create mess and try to instigate the youth of the country,” he said on the internet suspension in Srinagar and other districts in the Kashmir valley.

Raina further said that Pakistani elements can instigate the youth and spread venom in the society and that is why preventive measures have been taken. “But soon you shall find all internet facilities will be opened and will be given free access,” he said.

India has on several occasions accused Pakistan of sponsoring terror and allowing its land to be used for terror activities. In recent days, the Indian Army and security forces have foiled terrorists’ attempts to enter Indian territory from the Pakistan side.

On India’s semi-high speed and feature-rich Vande Bharat Express arriving in Jammu from Delhi, he said, “We are thankful to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal for providing the best train that is Vande Bharat Express to Jammu and Kashmir after the revocation of Article 370.

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He said “Vande Bharat Express will provide all sorts of relief to passengers that we have seen at the overcrowded railway stations of Jammu Tawi, Katra and Udhampur. It is a big gift for the people of Kashmir,” Raina added. (IANS)