THE barbaric mindset of the Pakistani army has once again shown its ugly face to the world. On 8th of January, taking advantage of the heavy fog and poor visibility near the line of control (LoC), Pakistani soldiers abducted and killed two Indian soldiers, severely mutilating their bodies. The two brave jawans, of 13 Rajputana Rifles, have been identified as Lance Naik Hemraj (29) of Mathura and Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh (28) of Jhansar in Madhya Pradesh. One of the unfortunate soldiers was also beheaded. This inhuman act was carried out by the elite commandos of the Border Action team (BAT) of 29 Balouch unit of the Pakistani army when they were patrolling near the LoC in Mendhar sector of Poonch district. The attackers were said to be have been dressed in black uniforms and were heavily armed. The Pakistani raiders outnumbered the Indian contingent of seven to eight soldiers and easily overpowered them.
The incident is not the first time that Pakistan has violated the LoC and killed Indian soldiers during peacetime. It may be recalled that on February 17, 2000, the dreaded terrorist commander Ilyas Kashmiri carried out an attack on the remote Ashok Listening Post in which seven Indian soldiers were killed and sepoy Bhausaheb Maruti Talekar (24) was beheaded. Pakistan has been violating the ceasefire at LoC with impunity; there were 57 violations in 2010 and 61 the next year. This year there have already been three violations.
This latest incident has crossed all norms of civilized warfare. Elaborating on this, Brig J K Tiwari, Deputy General Officer Commanding of the 25 Infantry Division, said that the incident was a pre-planned operation.
“Our area domination patrol was moving from one post to another along the LoC when it came under heavy fire from a group of Pakistani troops who had crossed the LoC and intruded deep into our side. The firing continued for over half an hour,” he explained. He went on to state that the soldiers were ambushed in thick fog which worked to the advantage of the Pakistani troops. Later, when the patrol party began consolidation of the area, they found two soldiers missing. After a search, the severely mutilated bodies of the two soldiers were recovered. The head of one of the soldiers had been taken away, he claimed.
The incident has sparked outrage across the Indian political establishment. The opposition BJP has asked the government to reconsider its friendly overtures towards Pakistan. It said that mere words were not enough to assuage the situation and the time had come for some action on the part of the Indian authorities. “This is an act of the Pakistani Army and not any non-State actors of Pakistan. The government must review its policy, whether its enthusiasm to expand the dialogue with Pakistan is to continue or strict red lines are drawn with regard to the dialogue, as Pakistan persists with its policy of cross border terrorism and armed hostilities against India,” it said. Arun Jaitley, leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha had earlier warned India that the country needs to “gather all evidence and shame Pakistan before the international fora”. Defence Minister A K Antony marked the Pakistani act as “higly provocative and the way it treated the dead bodies of the Indian jawans as inhuman”.
Meanwhile, Pakistan has brazenly refused to accept that its troops violated the LoC and cleared its army of any wrongdoing, claiming the Indian version as baseless. The Pakistan High Commission denied any involvement of its troops in the attack and said it was prepared to pursue an investigation through the UN Military Observer Group on the recent ceasefire violations on the LoC. Whatever the outcome of the independent investigation, this latest incident has soured relations between the two rival South Asian nuclear powers for years to come.