Zee Media Bureau
Srinagar/New Delhi: In a provocative attack, a group of 20 heavily armed men led by Pakistani troops entered 450 metres into the Indian territory in the Poonch sector in Jammu and Kashmir in the wee hours on Tuesday and ambushed a patrol killing five Indian soldiers, sparking all round outrage with demands for strong government response.
"A patrol of Indian Army comprising of one Non-Commissioned Officer and five other ranks was ambushed by a Pak Border Action Team (BAT) close to the Line of Control in Poonch Sector of J&K early morning", Defence spokesman, Jammu, SN Acharya said in an official statement.
"In the ensuing firefight, five Indian soldiers were martyred. The ambush was carried out by approximately 20 heavily armed terrorists along with soldiers of Pak Army," he said, adding one soldier was injured.
In Delhi, Pakistan’s Deputy High Commissioner Mansoor Ahmed Khan was summoned by the Indian government today and a strong protest has been lodged over the killing of Indian soldiers on the LoC.
Khan was summoned by Joint Secretary in Ministry of External Affairs Rudrendra Tandon in South Block and delivered a strong diplomatic message, sources said.
In the Parliament, Defence Minister AK Antony said a strong message has been sent to Pakistan. He further asserted that the Indian Army was ready to take all necessary steps.
Making a suo motu statement in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, Antony said the attack was carried out by "terrorists along with persons dressed in Pakistan Army uniform".
Later replying to a debate in the Rajya Sabha, the minister said New Delhi`s response will depend on signals and actions from Pakistan.
According to sources, 15-20 Pakistani soldiers of 101 Mujahideen Regiment, attacked the Sarla post on the Indian side of the LoC.
The deceased jawans belonging to 21 Bihar Regiment were deployed on the Sarla forward post along LoC in Chakan-Da-Bagh sector of Poonch.
Those who died have been identified as Naik Prem Nath Singh, Lance Naik Shambu Suran Rai, Sepoy Ravinand Prasad, Sepoy Vijay Kumar Rai and Kuleen Mannae.
A senior Army officer said the patrol had lost contact with the army unit around 0115 hours today.
The attack took place 450 metres from the LoC on the Indian side, Defence sources said.
Members cutting across party lines expressed anger in Parliament over this morning`s incident.
Most of the political parties, including BJP, Left, SP, JD(U), Shiv Sena and BSP in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha demanded a "befitting reply" to Pakistan over the provocative act in Poonch sector of J&K.
There were also demands that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should not meet his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif in New York next month on the sidelines of UN General Assembly as is planned.
BJP leader Yashwant Sinha even questioned whether the Congress was serious in dealing with Pakistan sternly.
In the Rajya Sabha, Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley said Antony`s contention that the attack was carried out by "persons dressed in Pakistan army uniform" provides "an escape route" to Pakistan which has always been in a state of denial, even in Kargil where it said `non-State actors` were involved.
Demanding a "befitting reply", he said there is a "need to modulate our foreign policy to send a message to Pakistan that these kinds of attacks will not be tolerated." He also mentioned repeated incursions by Chinese troops and wanted to know what the government was doing.
Referring to the plans for organising a meeting of the Prime Minister with Sharif in New York, the BJP leader said the government should not forget that the country`s interest is supreme.
Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh, who took stock of the situation, will visit Poonch, Army sources said in Delhi.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi said India would not be cowed down by the "deceitful" killing of five of its soldiers and asked the Government to take "appropriate" measures.
Expressing deep grief and shock over the incident, she said that the entire Congress party as indeed the entire country stands by the families of the martyred soldiers.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah expressed grief at the killing of Indian soldiers and said that such incidents cast a doubt over the Pakistan government`s intention regarding its ties with India.
The incident could cast a shadow on the resumption of the Indo-Pak dialogue process expected later this month. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif are slated to meet in New York next month on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session.
The incident comes hours after a BSF jawan was injured in firing from across Indo-Pak border in Samba district of J&K.
On July 27, another BSF jawan was injured when Pakistani troops violated ceasefire twice in the space of 10 hours by targeting Indian posts along the Indo-Pak border in Poonch and Kathua districts.
The Pakistani troops had used mortars, RPGs and heavy machine guns leading to heavy firing exchanges.
On July 03, Pakistan violated ceasefire when it fired on cops, who had gone to LoC in Sabzian, Poonch to collect the body of a Pakistani intruder killed in an IED blast on July 01.
Pakistani troops fired on troops trying to evacuate injured porters after two were killed in IED attack by Pakistani militants along LoC in Poonch on July 08.
On July 12, Pakistani Rangers fired on Indian forward posts in Pindi belt along International Border (IB) in Jammu district.
Pakistani troops opened small arms firing on Indian posts in forward area along LoC in Poonch district on the night of July 22.
With PTI inputs