New Delhi: Under the cover of heavy mortar fire, a Pakistani special forces team allegedly came 250 metres across the LoC into the Poonch sector and beheaded two Indian security personnel on Monday, officials said.
The Indian army vowed an “appropriate” response to the “despicable act”, which took place a day after Pakistan’s army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, visited some areas along the LoC and promised support to Kashmiris protesting against the Indian government.
On its part, the Pakistan army denied that it was involved in any attack.
Defence minister Arun Jaitley said in Delhi that the “sacrifice (of the two killed) will not go in vain” and the Indian armed forces will react “appropriately” to the “inhuman act” of the Pakistani troops. “This is a reprehensible and an inhuman act. Such attacks do not take place during war,” he said.
“Bodies of soldiers being mutilated is an extreme form of barbaric act. The government of India strongly condemns this act. The whole country has full faith in our armed forces which will react appropriately to the act,” Jaitley said.
According to the Indian Express, army chief Bipin Rawat reached Srinagar to take stock of the situation and home minister Rajnath Singh is meeting top security officials in Delhi.
The attack was apparently carried out by Pakistan’s Border Action Team (BAT), which comprises special forces, under the cover of shelling by Pakistani troops in the Krishna Ghati Sector in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir, officials said.
The army issued a statement saying that the bodies of an army soldier and a BSF head constable were mutilated but a senior army officer told PTI that they were beheaded.
The soldiers killed were naib subedar Paramjeet Singh of the 22 Sikh Infantry and head constable Prem Sagar of the 200th Battalion of BSF. BSF constable Rajinder Singh was injured but is out of danger.
The BAT team had set up an ambush to target the patrol party on the Indian soldiers while the Pakistan army engaged two Indian forward defence locations (FDL) with rockets and mortar bombs, the officials said.
“It was a pre-planned operation of the Pakistan army. They had pushed in BAT teams over 250 meters deep inside Indian territory and set up ambushes for a long period to carry out the attack,” a senior army official said.
“The Pakistani army posts attacked two FDL posts with rockets and mortar bombs at 0830 hours and engaged them,” the official said. “Their target was a 7-8 member patrol party, which had come out of the post.”
“Two members of the patrol party, who were left behind, were attacked by the BAT team and killed. Their bodies were badly mutilated,” the official said.
“The Pakistani army carried out unprovoked rocket and mortar firing on two forward posts on the Line of Control in Krishna Ghati Sector (in Poonch district) this morning,” a defence ministry spokesman said.
“Simultaneously, BAT action was launched on a patrol operating in between the two posts,” said a statement issued by the Northern Army Command.
“In an unsoldierly act by the Pakistani army, the bodies of two of our soldiers in the patrol were mutilated,” the spokesman said, adding, “Such a despicable act of the Pakistan army will be appropriately responded to.”
According to reports, at 0825 hours, Pakistani army’s 647 Mujahid Battalion targeted India’s forward post ‘Kirpan’ from its post ‘Pimple’ in Krishna Ghati sector. It was followed by attack on another forward post in the same area.
A senior BSF officer said that at about 0830 hours, there was heavy firing from the Pakistani army posts at BSF posts at the LoC in the Krishna Ghati sector of Poonch district with rockets and automatic weapons. “They attacked with rockets a forward BSF post (which lies) ahead of the fencing and opened heavy fire from automatic weapons. They violated the ceasefire,” the BSF officer said.
Indian troops retaliated and the firing continued for some time intermittently.
In Islamabad, the Pakistani army said it did not commit any ceasefire violation or BAT action in the Krishna Ghati sector.
There have been several BAT attacks in the past in which Indian jawans have been beheaded or their bodies mutilated. On October 28, 2016, militants attacked a post and killed an Indian army soldier and mutilated his body close to the LoC in the Machil sector. In January 2013, lance naik Hemraj was killed and his body mutilated by a BAT. It had also beheaded lance naik Sudhakar Singh. Constable Rajinder Singh of the BSF battalion had suffered injuries in the attack. In June 2008, a soldier of the 2/8 Gorkha Rifles lost his way and was captured by a Pakistani Border Action Team (BAT) in Kel sector. His body was found beheaded after a few days.
During the 1999 Kargil conflict, Captain Saurabh Kalia was tortured by his Pakistani captors who later handed over his mutilated body to India.
Congress condemns attack
The Congress on Monday condemned the killing of two Indian soldiers on the LoC and mutilation of their bodies by Pakistan, saying such cowardly acts are unacceptable in a civilised society and are not conducive to the neighbouring country’s own interests and security.
Expressing concern over rise in terrorist incidents in the country post-September 2016 surgical strike, Congress’ senior spokesperson Anand Sharma attacked the BJP-led NDA government over its Kashmir policy saying “it has been a disaster marked by political opportunism”. He also called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to break his silence and spell out a policy on Kashmir after taking the opposition leadership into confidence, and on internal security to stop rising terrorist incidents sponsored from across the border.
He said the government lacks comprehension of the situation as it has allowed things “to deteriorate and go completely out of control because of its sheer lust for power, political opportunism and formation of a government (in J&K)” which ignored the realities of internal security challenges in that region.
“We condemn what Pakistan did. It must stop terrorism and realise that these actions are unacceptable in a civilised world. It deserves to be condemned firmly and Pakistan must realise that these actions are unacceptable in the civilised society and they are not conducive to Pakistan’s own interest, its own security and the welfare of its people,” he said.
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi also strongly condemned the killings and described them as a “barbaric and disgraceful act”. “The government must move beyond platitudes and hold Pakistan to account,” he wrote on Twitter.
(With PTI inputs)