India on Thursday rejected Pakistan’s demand for a UN probe into the LoC incident, saying it would be tantamount to internationalising the issue. The development came as reports from Islamabad suggested that a Pakistani soldier had been killed in firing by Indian troops across the Line of Control (LoC).
“We are not going to agree to internationalise the issue or allow the United Nations to hold an inquiry. That demand is rejected out of hand,” Union finance minister P Chidambaram said after a cabinet committee meeting on security. Defence minister AK Antony briefed the cabinet committee on security and said the nine-year-old ceasefire must be maintained despite repeated provocation from Pakistan.
According to Indian army officials, there were 52 successful infiltration bids by Pakistan-sponsored terrorists on the LoC in 2011 — a figure which more than doubled to 121 in 2012.
“There has been an increase in ceasefire violations. There has been an increase in infiltration attempts, not only in the last few months, but the last few years. It is a fact and we are dealing with it,” said Shiv Shankar Menon, National Security Advisor.
In fact, Indian troops in the Uri sector reacted to the continuous firing from Pakistan on the nights of January 5 and 6 before hitting back with “controlled retaliation.” An official communique from the army headquarters said this was another attempt by the Pakistani forces to aid infiltration. As reported in DNA on Thursday, the attack in Mendhar could have been a reaction to the Uri retaliation.
Army sources told DNA that two Indian soldiers, Lance Naik Hemraj Singh and Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh, were separated from their colleagues when they fell to a hail of bullets from the Pakistani special forces. They beheaded one soldier and were in the process of mutilating the other when the Indians returned fire.
Indian troops were forced to open fire on Pakistani positions at the Mendhar and Barasingh between 4.30pm and 6.10pm on Thursday as well. Troops under the 25 Infantry division were on full alert and the sporadic firing continued in different areas as tensions between the two nuclear neighbours remained high.
Pakistan lodged a formal complaint with the United Nations seeking a probe into the alleged LoC violation by India leading to the death of a Pakistani soldier on January 6. However, Islamabad remained silent on the brutal mutilation of the two Indian soldiers by Pakistani forces. Pakistan’s foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar said they were open to a UN probe even as Pakistan’s high commissioner denied India’s “baseless” allegations that its soldiers were killed by Pakistani soldiers.
India has denied that its troops crossed the LoC in the Rampur sector or violated the ceasefire. It claims it undertook “controlled retaliation” in response to “unprovoked firing” by Pakistani troops on January 6. External affairs minister Salman Khurshid reiterated India’s stated position of not inviting any “multilateral interference”. He said: “We have consistently maintained this is a bilateral situation between India and Pakistan.”