MIRPUR (AJK)   -  Only a day after Pakistan exposed Indian duplicity on terrorism issue and raised the Kashmir issue at the UNGA, a civilian helicopter carrying Azad Kashmir prime minister was fired upon by the troops of an embarrassed and deranged India.

Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider, who along with some of his cabinet colleagues, was on his way to a nearby village to condole the death of a local politician when the incident came. All those onboard remained unhurt luckily.

The white chopper was flying close to the highly militarised Line of Control in Poonch sector when it was fired at from an Indian check post.

Raja Arshad, a senior local administration official in of Havaily district, where the incident came, said the prime minister was safe and no damage came to the helicopter also.

It is mandatory for Pakistan and India to inform each other beforehand about the movement of military aircraft but that procedure is not a prerequisite for the movement of civilian helicopters.

Though the colour and the shape of the copter made its civilian nature easily discernible but Indian soldiers probably mistook it for a military craft and sprang into action, that too while it was flying in Pakistani airspace.

Instead of tendering apology or expressing regret over the incident, Indian officials tried to shift the blame by claiming that the chopper violated its airspace and was fired at for pushing it back into AJK territory.

PM Haider strongly rejected this assertion. “My helicopter had not even committed any violation and was flying well within our side of the LoC [near Taraori village in Abaspur tehsil] when Indian troops opened fire,” he said in a statement from Islamabad.

“We were absolutely in our own air space when the Indian army staged this drama by resorting to the unprovoked firing at the civilian chopper,” Farooq Haider told The Nation. To a question, he said that a civilian chopper can move up to the Zero Line of border.

Giving their version of the story, Indian defence spokesman Lt Col Devender Anand told the media that a white-coloured Pakistani helicopter had violated Indian airspace around noon on Sunday.

It entered around 700m inside the Indian territory and flew over Krishna Ghati sector before returning, he said. Air sentries at forward locations had engaged it with small arms, a move intended to warn the pilot about the intrusion and force the chopper to turn back. The chopper wasn’t hit, he added.

Indian media quoting defence sources said the chopper flew over Gulpur area across the Line of Control in Krishna Ghati Sector at 12:13pm before returning to Pakistani airspace. A 30-second video, claiming to show the chopper flying over Indian airspace, was also released by ANI news agency.

The incident comes at a time when relations between the two neighbours are at a low.

Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had launched a particularly stinging attack on Pakistan at the UN General Assembly on Saturday, accusing it of funding and glorifying terrorists and warning of a “conflagration” if terrorism was not rooted out.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi responded to Sushma’s accusations and exposed the real face of India to the world.

Addressing the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, he revealed how New Delhi, which accused Islamabad of sponsoring terror, was in fact herself financing terrorism in almost all its neighbouring countries.

Qureshi reiterated Pakistan’s principled stance of continuing to extend diplomatic support to the Kashmiris in their struggle for right to self determination.

He also warned India of a matching response if New Delhi tried to cross the LoC or acted upon its so-called doctrine of limited war against Pakistan.

Just an hour before the chopper incident on Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his monthly radio programme, issued a warning to Pakistan.

“It has now been decided that our soldiers will give a befitting reply to whosoever makes an attempt to destroy the atmosphere of peace and progress in our nation,” he said, without naming Islamabad.

“We believe in peace and are determined to encourage it but it cannot be done at the cost of country’s pride and sovereignty,” Modi said, whose government has recently rejected Pakistan’s offer for peace talks.

AJK PM Farooq Haider said it was clear that India was much upset at its failure to suppress the freedom struggle in Occupied Kashmir despite all its brutality.

He added that BJP government was also afraid of defeat in the Indian general elections scheduled for next year and it was resorting to war mongering to divert public attention from the internal crises.

The state premier said the people of Jammu and Kashmir will act as a front line for the defence of every inch of Pakistan and AJK.

“We will fight shoulder to shoulder with the brave armed forces of Pakistan if India attempted to launch any aggression from across the international border or the LoC,” he vowed.



AJK PM survives Indian firing at his chopper