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Army says soldiers crossed LoC, but didn't rebuild bunkers

By Mukhtar Ahmad In Srinagar
Last updated on: October 13, 2005 16:59 IST
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The army Thursday maintained that its personnel crossed the Line of ControlĀ in Uri sector in response to a request for help from Pakistani soldiers, but said it did not reconstruct any bunkers damaged in the earthquake there.

"Indian soldiers did not reconstruct any Pakistani army bunkers," an army spokesman said in New Delhi, clarifying that the soldiers had gone across unarmed to give Pakistani soldiers picks and shovels to clear debris of some pillars of the Aman Setu bridge on the Pakistani side.

"Our soldiers responded to shouts of help from across the LoC," the spokesman said, "in no case scenario can Indian soldiers help in rebuilding enemy bunkers."

The clarification came after Pakistan's defence ministry spokesman Maj Gen Shaukat Sultan in Islamabad termed as "baseless" and "untrue" reports that Indian troops crossed the LoC to help its soldiers reconstruct bunkers.

In Srinagar, the General Officer Commanding, 15 Corps, Lt Gen S S Dhillon told reporters that Indian soldiers had helped their Pakistani counterparts on the spur of the moment and on humanitarian grounds.

Soldiers of two armies got together on humanitarian grounds in the hour of crisis," he said. Shaukat Sultan, however, said, "There is no question of Indian army crossing LoC to help rebuild bunkers. All our bunkers are safe and can withstand artillery shells."

"Bunkers are robust and built to withstand all kinds of shocks and artillery. So there is no question of any damage to these installations," the Pakistani army official said adding, the damage along the LoC on Paksitani side was less.

Defence sources in Srinagar had Wednesday said that Indian Army troops crossed the LoC near Aman Setu to help reconstruct a bunker of Pakistani soldiers at their request.

A defence spokesman had said on Wednesday evening that Pakistani troops manning a bunker on their side of LoC near the Aman Setu bridge on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road sought the help of their Indian counterparts who were busy trying to clear their own bunkers on this side on Wednesday afternoon.

"Five to six soldiers from our side went across after crossing the river and helped the Pakistani soldiers with the repair work," the spokesman had said.

The defence spokesman said that the Kaman bridge, which connects divided Kashmir, was also damaged due to the quake and it will take several days for its restoration.

The men and machinery of the border roads organisation are working round the clock to clear the road upto the Kaman bridge and authorities here have already announced indefinite postponement of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus whose next sortie was due on October 20.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, while giving details about the devastation caused by the earthquake, said so far 1195 deaths have been reported from all over the state, including 1178 from Kashmir and 17 from Jammu division.

He said 4,373 people have been injured. The fully damaged houses count for 42,720, while 73,450 are partially damaged. These include 35918 and 73297, respectively in Kashmir alone.

Complete coverage: Tremors across borders

With PTI Inputs

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Mukhtar Ahmad In Srinagar