India summoned Pakistan’s ambassador on Wednesday to register a protest against the alleged killing and mutilation of two Indian soldiers by Pakistani troops on the de facto border that divides the disputed region of Kashmir.
Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar summoned Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit and conveyed New Delhi’s anger over the beheadings of two Border Security Force (BSF) personnel Monday along the Line of Control (LoC) in Indian-administered Kashmir, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a statement.
“The foreign secretary conveyed India’s outrage at the killing and the barbaric act of mutilation of the bodies of the two Indian soldiers on May 1, 2017, by Pakistan Army personnel,” the Indian ministry said.
“It was significant that the attack was preceded by covering fire from Pakistani posts in Battal sector. Blood samples of the Indian soldiers have been collected and the trail of blood clearly shows that the killers returned across the Line of Control,” it added.
Pakistani troops fired about 50 rockets, followed by heavy mortar shelling, to create a thick smokescreen, an Indian army source told BenarNews, while giving details of Monday’s attack in Poonch district.
“Before we could even respond, Pakistan Army personnel crossed over to the Indian side and beheaded two of our soldiers before returning to their side,” the source said. The slain Indian soldiers were identified as Paramjit Singh and Prem Sagar.
The Indian Army has warned of a befitting reply to its neighbor for the “barbaric act,” which will likely further strain ties between the two rival nations.
India and Pakistan have fought three full-blown wars – two of them over the ownership of the Himalayan region of Kashmir – since the partition of the Indian sub-continent in 1947. The two sides routinely accuse each other of cross-border infiltrations and ceasefire violations along the LoC.
Basit, who visited the Foreign Ministry’s headquarters in New Delhi on Wednesday, denied allegations that Pakistan’s army was behind the killings, MEA spokesman Gopal Baglay said.
“He [Basit] of course denied that the Pakistani army was involved, but assured he will convey contents of our demarche to his government,” Baglay told reporters, adding, “This was an extreme act of provocation.
“We have proof it [the attack] was carried out by the Pakistan Army. We have demanded from Pakistan that whoever from their army was behind this incident be punished.”
Describing the allegations as “baseless and unfounded,” the Pakistan Army said in a statement that it “remains fully committed to maintaining peace and tranquility along the LOC and expect same from [the] other side and hope prudence is exercised.”
Monday’s mutilation was the first reported case since Pakistani military forces killed three Indian soldiers and mutilated one of the bodies in November 2016, according to the Hindustan Times.
In October 2016, another Indian soldier’s body was found mutilated in the Machil area near the Line of Control, while units from the Indian and Pakistani armies exchanged cross-border fire, the newspaper reported.
‘Massive outrage across India’
Indian analysts did not pay heed to Pakistan’s denial.
“Diplomatic relations between the two sides have anyway been on a standstill and this incident is further going to strain relations. There is massive outrage across India over the brutal killings of Indian soldiers and the government is under pressure to act,” Ajai Sahni of the New Delhi-based Institute of Conflict Management told BenarNews.
“Pakistan’s denial is not surprising. Pakistan has always denied acts of terrorism. Such denials have no credibility globally and such actions are bound to bring more discredit to Pakistan at the international level,” he said.
But Noor Baba, a Srinagar-based political analyst, said New Delhi should not act in haste.
“I am fairly certain that some elements want to ensure that relations between India and Pakistan never improve. I reckon Monday’s attack is the handiwork of such elements because Pakistan has denied its involvement outright,” Baba told BenarNews.
“Clearly, India is under pressure to retaliate to the killings of its soldiers. But any response from India will only further escalate tensions between the two countries,” he added.