Pakistani troops cross LoC, behead Indian soldier
Jammu: India has warned Pakistan of a "proportionate response" after the latter’s troops on Tuesday crossed into the Indian territory and ambushed an Army patrol party killing two soldiers. As per reports, the Pakistani troops beheaded one of the soldiers and carried his head away, but the same could not be confirmed.
While condemning the killings, India termed the action “provocative, absolutely unacceptable and inhuman". The Pakistan Army has dismissed the "allegations".
The two neighbours’ Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) will meet today where New Delhi is likely to issue a stern warning to Islamabad.
Also, the Pakistani envoy to India has reportedly been summoned.
The attack took place along the LoC in Poonch district when Pakistanis came about 100 metres into the Indian territory and assaulted the patrol party. Besides killing two Lance Naiks - Hemraj and Sudhakar Singh of the 13 Rajputana Rifles - they also injured two other soldiers.
A Defence Ministry spokesman said the incident took place at 11.30 am.
According to the sources, troops from the 29 Baloch Regiment of the Pakistani Army entered the Indian territory at Sona Gali area of Poonch district and carried out the strikes.
Army's Udhampur-based Northern Command came out with a statement terming the attack as a "significant escalation" to the continuing series of ceasefire violations and infiltration attempts supported by Pakistan Army.
"A group of their regular soldiers intruded across the Line of Control in the Mendhar Sector on January 8. Pakistan Army troops, having taken advantage of thick fog and mist in the forested area, were moving towards our posts when an alert area domination patrol spotted and engaged the intruders," it said.
"The fire fight between Pakistan and our troops continued for approximately half an hour after which the intruders retreated towards their side of LoC. Two soldiers Lance Naik Hemraj and Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh laid down their lives while fighting the Pakistani troops," it said.
This is yet another "grave provocation" by Pakistan Army which is being taken up sternly through official channels, the statement said.
Army sources said that the Pakistani troops took away the weapons of the dead Indian soldiers.
Northern Army Command chief Lt Gen KT Parnaik, who later visited the spot, asked the Army to "stay alert and calm" and declared that "appropriate action will be taken at the appropriate time".
The Pakistani troops also opened heavy fire on Indian posts in Krishnaghati sector of Poonch along LoC at around 7 pm. Indian troops retaliated and the gunfight was on till 11.30 pm. There was no report of any casualty on either side.
The External Affairs Ministry is in touch with the Defence Ministry over the incident.
External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said that the government will make it clear to Pakistan that the action of its troops was absolutely unacceptable and it needed answers.
"It is not something of light nature, public opinion does not accept it," Khurshid told a news channel.
Terming the incident an unwholesome development, he said India will factor it in the roadmap for the future.
"We want proportionate response... (will take) a collective view in the government," he said, adding it seemed a ploy to derail peace talks.
India also termed the Pakistani action "provocative".
"The Government of India considers the incident as a provocative action and we condemn it. Directors General of Military Operations (DGMOs) of the two countries are in touch over it,” the Defence Ministry said in a statement, adding the matter will be taken up with Pakistan.
Political parties in India also strongly condemned the ceasefire violation and the killing of two Indian soldiers, saying the incident will have an impact on bilateral ties.
The BJP said that talks with Pakistan should be called off while Congress said that Pakistan owes an explanation.
There has been escalation in ceasefire violations by the Pakistani Army, which has been attempting to push militants across the LoC into Indian side by taking advantage of inclement weather.
In the last about one month, the Pakistani Army has violated the ceasefire agreement nearly a dozen times. Most of these firing incidents were in Rajouri, Uri and Keran sector to help infiltration attempts, Army officials said.
The attack comes a day after Pakistan lodged a strong protest over what it described as an "unprovoked Indian attack" on one of its military posts along the Line of Control, a claim which the Indian Army rejected.
Indian Deputy High Commissioner Gopal Bagley was called to the Foreign Office in Islamabad on Monday and handed over a protest note over the incident in the Haji Pir sector.
The incident had resulted in the death of a Pakistani soldier and injuries to another, the Pakistani side claimed.
However, Army Headquarters in New Delhi said "no such incident has taken place where our soldiers have attacked any Pakistani post".
The External Affairs Ministry denied that Indian troops crossed the LoC in Rampur sector or violated the ceasefire in force since 2003 in the area as claimed by Islamabad.
"India is committed to the sanctity of LoC," a ministry spokesman said, calling it the most important part of the India-Pakistan confidence-building measures.
"We call upon the Pakistan authorities to ensure that the sanctity of the LoC is upheld at all times."
On Tuesday, Pakistani Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani visited Sialkot and asked the Army to remain "fully prepared to respond to the full spectrum of threats, direct or indirect, overt or covert".
(With Agency inputs)