External Affairs

India Summons Pakistan High Commissioner, Demands Immediate Action Over Soldiers’ Beheading

Foreign secretary S. Jaishankar demanded that Pakistan “take immediate action against its soldiers and commanders responsible for this heinous act”.

Army jawans in the Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday. Credit: PTI

Army jawans in the Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday. Credit: PTI

New Delhi: India on Wednesday summoned Pakistan’s high commissioner to demand immediate action against the Pakistan army personnel responsible for the ‘mutilation’ of two Indian soldiers which occurred at the LoC, and also claimed that a trail of blood showed the path the killers’ took from across the border.

New Delhi also took other steps to make its displeasure clear to Pakistan as tensions between the two countries continued to rise over the beheadings.

A group of around 50 Pakistani schoolchildren arrived in India on Monday for a NGO-facilitated visit to create links and form friendships with their Indian counterparts. But, since they arrived on May 1 – the same day when India accused Pakistan of mutilating its soldiers – New Delhi asked the school children to return.

“MEA had advised that this was not an appropriate time for such exchange, (when) we learnt that they crossed (the border) on May 1,” said Baglay.

On May 1, Indian army’s Northern Command said that the Pakistan army had, in an “unsoldierly act”, beheaded two Indian soldiers who were on patrol at the Krishna Ghati sector. India blamed the Pakistan army’s Border Action Team for the act.

Two days later, foreign secretary S. Jaishankar summoned Pakistan high commissioner Abdul Basit to South Block. During the meeting, Jaishankar “conveyed India’s outrage at the killing and the barbaric act of mutilation”.

“It was conveyed that the government considers it as strong act of provocation and in contravention to all norms of civilised conduct,” the external affairs ministry’s spokesperson Gopal Baglay said.

India’s top diplomat pointed to the Pakistani envoy that his country’s involvement in the attack was evident due to the “covering fire” and “trail of blood” returning back cross the border. “It was significant that the attack was preceded by covering fire from Pakistani posts in the Battal sector (in the vicinity of the village Battal). Blood samples of the Indian soldiers that have been collected and the trail of blood on Roza Nala clearly shows the killers returned across the Line of Control,” said the MEA press release.

Asked for clarification on the evidence, Baglay said that, “[The] trail of blood is of Pakistanis who came across, in this case, personnel of [the] Pakistani army”.

Jaishankar also demanded that Pakistan “take immediate action against its soldiers and commanders responsible for this heinous act”.

The foreign ministry spokesperson argued that Indian diplomacy had led the international community to accept that India’s position on terrorism is justified.

“See the joint statements issued after meetings with world leaders last year.. and the also the latest Turkey joint statement which said that cross border movement must be stopped,” he said.

He added that it was unfortunate that it was still questionable as to whether Pakistan was heeding the world’s concerns about it dismantling its terror infrastructure.

When asked about a report in the state-run Chinese paper Global Times which called for Beijing to mediate the Kashmir issue, Baglay said, “…I can only advice that section of Chinese media to understand the Chinese position on Jammu and Kashmir closely. To our understanding, the Chinese position has been that Jammu and Kashmir is an issue to be addressed by India and Pakistan.”

On Tuesday, the Indian director general of military operations had also expressed his “grave concern” over the incident in a conversation over the hotline he shares with his Pakistani counterpart and said that it was “beyond the norms of civility”.

He also expressed concern at the BAT training camps near the LoC.

As per the ISPR version of events, the Pakistan army DGMO claimed that the allegations of mutilation were “an Indian attempt to divert the attention of world from situation in the Valley”. He asserted that “the Pakistan army is a professional military outfit and upholds the highest standard of conduct”. The senior Pakistani officer had also asked for “actionable evidence” related to the allegations.

The Pakistan high commissioner has been a regular visitor to South Block, having been called at least twice in April over the death sentence awarded to Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav for espionage.

The continuing tensions between Pakistan and India have taken a toll on people-to-people exchanges.

The children who were turned away are not the only ones who have seen their plans disrupted.

Earlier in the day, the minister of state for sports, Vijay Goel said that “terrorism and sports cannot go together”, after there were reports that India has denied a visa to a Pakistani delegation for the Asian Wrestling Championship which will be held next week.

However, responding to another question about visas for Pakistani squash players, Baglay claimed that India had approved their travel documents, but they were not collected by the players.

Over the weekend, the Pakistan government faced political heat over the “secret” meeting between Indian businessman Sajjan Jindal and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The ‘meeting’ apparently triggered a reaction from the military establishment, which included an unprecedented public rejection of a directive issued by Sharif by the Pakistan army.

In India’s first public reaction to the meeting, Baglay noted that Jindal was “a private individual”.

“Apparently, reportedly, he met the leader of another country, so it is not my domain to comment. In order to be helpful, I would only refer you to the tweet of the daughter of the Pakistan Prime Minister that she put out in the virtual space after the reported meeting,” he said.