Concern in LS over Indian soldiers drifting to Pak in floods

Members in the Lok Sabha, including from ruling Congress, on Friday questioned the government`s silence over reports that 33 soldiers had drifted away to Pakistan during last week`s flash floods in Leh in Jammu and Kashmir.

Last Updated: Aug 13, 2010, 18:14 PM IST

New Delhi: Members in the Lok Sabha, including
from ruling Congress, on Friday questioned the government`s
silence over reports that 33 soldiers had drifted away to
Pakistan during last week`s flash floods in Leh in Jammu and
Kashmir.

Raising the matter during Zero Hour, Manish Tewari (Cong)
said 33 jawans of 15 Bihar Regiment, posted on the Line of
Control, were washed away in the flood and mudslide following
a cloudburst.
"Whether these reports (on being washed away) are correct
or what happened to them (soldiers), we do not know," he said.

The role of Pakistan Army has been questioned several times
as "we saw what happened to Lt Saurabh Kalia who was tortured
by them," he said.

Kalia and his patrol party of five jawans of the Indian
Army, who had reported Pakistani intrusion during the Kargil
conflict, were captured alive on May 15, 1999, from the Indian
side of LOC. They were kept for three weeks and subjected to
unprecedented brutal torture, evident from their bodies handed
over by Pakistan Army on June 9, 1999.

Tewari said the government should inform the House on the
matter immediately. He drew support from members from all
sides, including the opposition benches.

Shahnawaz Hussain (BJP) said it was a major tragedy in
which 600 people had died and 33 soldiers posted along the LoC
had drifted away in the floods to Pakistan.

Questioning as to what the government was doing about it,
he asked whether relatives of the deceased should themselves
go to Pakistan and look for them.

"There is no statement by the government. The Defence
Minister has not even expressed sympathies," he said.

Amid chants of "shame, shame", he said nobody in the
government seemed to be concerned about the fact that the
soldiers guarding the border had drifted to Pakistan and their
bodies were untraceable.
"They were not tourists, they were guarding the border but
the government is silent," the BJP member said and sought a
response from the government.

Making a brief intervention, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi
Azad said though the subject related to the Defence Ministry,
he had information that 25 soldiers and three loaders had
drowned.

The incident happened near the Line of Control in an area
which had been retrieved from Pakistan during 1971.

He said it was not true that the government had done
nothing in the wake of the disaster. He said he along with his
Cabinet colleague Farooq Abdullah had gone to Leh immediately
after the tragedy and visited the affected areas.

PTI