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India Planning Strong Response To Mutilation Of Its Soldiers By Pakistan

Incident will ratchet up tensions along the India-Pakistan border.

01/05/2017 6:07 PM IST | Updated 01/05/2017 7:33 PM IST
TAUSEEF MUSTAFA via Getty Images
An Indian army soldier stands guard near the scene of an attack on a Indian Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy at Panthachowk on the outskirts of Srinagar.

Two Indian soldiers were killed and their bodies mutilated in the Krishna Ghati sector in the Poonch area of Jammu and Kashmir this morning, the Northern Army Command has said. Another soldier has been critically injured.

This is the third incident of mutilation of Indian soldiers since September 2016 when Indian commandos crossed the Line of Control (LoC) and struck Pakistan army positions, killing an unspecified number of Pakistani soldiers and terrorists in what is called a surgical strike.

The Indian Army has retaliated today's attack. Sources said that the Indian Army is retaliating with small arms and mortar fire. "There will be stronger response, but that will be more thought through," a senior Indian Army officer told HuffPost India. Earlier last year after Indian soldiers were mutilated, India launched direct attack on Pakistan army positions using artillery and even anti-tank guided missiles.

Explaining today's attack, top Indian Army sources said, "A joint patrol of the Indian Army and the Border Security Force comprising about 9 soldiers came under rocket and mortar fire at about 8.40 am this morning. The patrol was dominating territory ahead of the fence along the LoC. Using the heavy, incessant fire as cover, Pakistan soldiers came in 200 meters inside the Indian territory. Two solider were killed and their bodies were mutilated."

The soldiers killed belong to the Nangi Tekri battalion that is under the Krishna Ghati based 10 brigade of the Indian Army. They were identified as Naik Subedar Paramjit Singh of the 22 Sikh and Constable Prem Sagar of the 200 Battalion of the Border Security Force.

The attack on Indian patrol was launched from the Battal area, sources said. And, although sources indicated that two Indian soldiers were beheaded, the Indian Army refused to confirm.

"Under fire from Pakistan, Indian soldiers would have taken cover breaking the formation. The two soldiers would have been first killed and then mutilated by the incoming Pakistan soldiers," a senior Indian Army officer said. The officer described the terrain as "rocky and thickly forested."

The incident of mutilation comes a day after Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Ahmed Bajwa visited Pakistan army post in the Haji-Peer area—north of Krishna Ghati Sector.

'Inhuman act,' says Arun Jaitley

Defence Minister Arun Jaitley called it a "reprehensible and an inhuman act". "Two of our soldiers in the Krishna Ghati sector in Poonch have been killed and their bodies mutilated by our neighbours. Such attacks don't even take place during war,let alone peace," he said.

Jaitley said that the bodies of soldiers being mutilitaed is an "extreme form of barbaric act".

"The Government of India strongly condemns this act and the whole country has full confidence and faith in our armed forces which will react appropriately to this inhuman act. The sacrifice of these soldiers will not go in vain," he said.

Rising violence along the India-Pakistan border

Since Indian commandos crossed the LoC to destroy Pakistan army positions and terror launch pads in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) last September, the borders have been tense. Infiltration bids and ceasefire violations have gone up. According to figures provided by the Indian Army, there have been 67 ceasefire violations till 1st May 2017, compared with 152 in the whole of 2014 and 228 in 2016. Similarly, there have been as many as 15 successful infiltration bids till 1st May 2017 in contrast to just 33 in the whole of 2014 and 119 successful bids in the whole of 2016. Also, 18 soldiers have been killed this year till May 1st in comparison to 31 and 33 in the whole of 2014 and 2015, respectively. In 2016, when the Kashmir valley saw major unrest, about 63 soldiers were killed.

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