A Pakistani helicopter violated the Indian airspace along the Line of Control in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday, officials said. A Jammu-based defence spokesman, lieutenant colonel DevenderAnand, said that a Pakistani helicopter committed airspace violation at 12.10 pm.
"Flying very high, the chopper intruded inside our territory and hovered for at least 5 minutes," Anand said. "The helicopter had come deep into our airspace. It was forced to return only after Indian army retaliated and opened fire."
The airspace violation took place as India celebrated "surgical strikes" that New Delhi claimed were carried out by the army over targets inside Pakistan-administered Kashmir in 2016. Pakistan has denied the strikes took place. Anand said the helicopter looked like a civilian-owned aircraft, dismissing earlier reports claiming the helicopter belonged to the Pakistan Army. Defence sources told Greater Kashmir that a helicopter intruded into Indian territory crossing the LoC in Gulpur-Dhallan area of Poonch at around noon. "A red and white colour Pakistan helicopter entered into area of responsibility (AOR) in Poonch," the source said, adding authorities informed the government in New Delhi about the violation and submitted a written report to the union ministry of home affairs.
Pakistani authorities were also immediately informed about the airspace violation through border communication mechanism, the sources said. "Though the helicopter returned immediately, an alarm was sounded to all Air Traffic Control units, while forces manning the border were also put on high alert," defence sources said.
"As per agreement between two bordering nations, one kilometer area beyond respective borders is declared as 'No Flying Zone' and intrusion in that zone is deemed as airspace violation," a defence expert said.
PANIC IN POONCH VILLAGES
After the incident, panic gripped several forward areas along the Line of Control in Poonch. "Forces on LoC also fired some aerial small arms shots as warning shots," the defence sources confirmed, but said no heavy anti-aircraft gun was used by the army. "A number of farmers working in fields and harvesting maize crop ran for safety as they heard sound of a helicopter entering from PaK side followed by use of arms by the army."
The helicopter, the sources said returned into Pakistan airspace from Betar side after staying in Indian airspace for more than five minutes. "It was likely to be a civil chopper and was flying very high. Air sentries at forward location had engaged it with small arms," army spokesman said.
'THEY FIRED AT MY HELICOPTER'
The Prime Minister of Pakistan-administered Kashmir Farooq Haider Khan said that Indian forces shot at his helicopter to "show that Pakistan had violated their airspace," an international news agency reported Sunday, quoting a statement issued by Khan's office."The Indian army fired to show that Pakistan had violated their airspace. When the firing took place, we were within our own airspace," Khan said in the statement. (WITH INPUTS FROM AGENCIES)