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Indian claim of troops’ beheading rejected

Updated May 02, 2017 06:04am

ISLAMABAD: In what is being seen here as an atte­mpt at escalation, India on Monday accused the Pakis­tan Army of carrying out an ambush across the Line of Control (LoC) in held Kash­mir through a ‘border action team (BAT)’ and beheading two Indian soldiers.

The allegation was stron­gly denied by the Pakistan Army, which stressed that being a professional force it did not engage in lowly acts of mutilating corpses of enemy troops. It denied undertaking a BAT action or committing any ceasefire violation.

Minister for Defence Khawaja Asif in a tweet termed Indian allegations baseless. He said it was a deplorable attempt by India to ignite tensions for internal political motives.

“Pakistan Army did not commit any ceasefire violation on Line of Control or a BAT action in Buttal sector (Indian Krishna Ghatti Sector) as alleged by India. Indian blame of mutilating Indian soldiers’ bodies is also false,” the military’s public relations wing ISPR said.

It said: “Pakistan Army is a highly professional force and shall never disrespect a soldier even Indian.”

The Indian army had earlier alleged that the Pakistan Army had on Monday morning carried out a “rocket and mortar” attack on two of its forward posts on the LoC. It further alleged that a BAT action was launched on a patrol operating between two posts.

The Indian allegation came a day after Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Bajwa visited the LoC in the Haji Pir sector. He told the troops that India had been committing aggression against the people of held Kashmir and Pakistani villages along the LoC and the Working Boundary. He said that the response from the Pakistani side should be “purely in military domain in accordance with our values”.

Indian media, quoting an unnamed senior army officer, alleged that a BAT team had been deployed 250 metres on the Indian side of the LoC. As per Indian media accounts the patrol comprised eight soldiers, six of whom had fled for cover, leaving behind the two who were allegedly “killed and beheaded”.

A statement issued by the Indian army’s northern command alleged that the bodies had been mutilated and warned that the “despicable act” would be “appropriately responded”.

Pakistani officials have often said that India adopts diversionary tactics to distract world attention from grave human rights violations in held Kashmir.

Tensions between the two countries have been running high since the latest phase of uprising in India-held Kashmir began in July last year following the killing of militant commander Burhan Wani.

Over a hundred Kashmiris have died and thousands have been injured in a brutal crackdown by Indian forces, while hundreds have been put behind bars.

India has banned internet services in the region after videos of rights abuses by Indian soldiers went viral on social media.

Tariq Naqash in Muzaffarabad adds: The Haji Pir sector, which the army chief visited, is in Haveli district and Buttal sector is in the neighbouring Poonch district of Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

Notwithstanding a ceasefire agreement signed in November 2003, India claimed after an attack last September by suspected militants on an Indian army base in Uri that its troops had conducted surgical strikes across the LoC, but the claim was rejected by Pakistan.

Since then, a number of casualties have occurred in cross-LoC shelling.

India had made a similar allegation in January 2013 that Pakistani troops had killed two Indian soldiers in the Mendhar sector and mutilated their bodies, but investigations by the Pakistan Army found no evidence of the deaths.

Published in Dawn, May 2nd, 2017