On a day when Pakistan vehemently denied its involvement in the killings of Indian jawans, including the beheading of a soldier, on the Line of Control (LoC), General Bikram Singh warned of revenge. The Indian army chief on Monday termed the beheading “unacceptable and unpardonable” and said India reserves the right to retaliate at the “time and place of its choice”. He added that India’s military has been asked to respond “aggressively and offensively”.
“We have firing plans with us but I do not want to divulge anything at this moment. But we will answer them,” General Singh said. “India reserves its right to retaliate at the time and place of its choice. We won’t remain passive when attacked.”
The brigadier-level flag meeting at Chakan-da-Bagh in Poonch district on Monday failed to de-escalate tension between the two countries as India and Pakistan stuck to their guns. While the Indian delegation led by Brigadier MVS Kumar expressed grave concern about the barbaric act by Pakistani troops in Mendhar sector last week, Pakistan denied its involvement in the incident. It claimed there was no ceasefire violation by its troops and alleged that Indian troops crossed the LoC and killed a Pakistani soldier apart from injuring another.
The meeting which began at 1pm lasted for just 20 minutes. Leaders from the two sides shook hands before getting down to business. Sources said the Indian delegation raised four specific issues in the meeting – ceasefire violations, infiltration, mutilation of soldiers and sought the remains of its soldiers back.
“Their response was on expected lines; they said no ceasefire violation was initiated by their troops,’’ the Indian army said in an official statement.
“The Indian army strongly protested against the heinous mutilation of our deceased soldiers’ bodies, pointing out that it was against the tenets of the Geneva Convention and also in contravention to all established norms of soldierly behavior,” said Lieutenant Colonel Rajesh Kalia, defence spokesperson at Northern Command headquarters.
Putting the onus of maintaining the ceasefire on Pakistan, General Bikram Singh said India will uphold it as long as the “adversary” does. However, he added that he expected commanders posted along the LoC to be “aggressive and offensive”. General Singh claimed the Indian army has adequate resources and wisdom at the Commander level and the operation per se will be dealt with at a ‘tactical level’.
The army chief said the ambush on Indian soldiers was a “pre-planned and pre-mediated act”. “The way the entire operation took place with precision, it would have taken at least seven to 10 days to execute it. And it was not in retaliation to any Indian attack,” he said. “It (the beheading of an Indian jawan) was a gruesome and unpardonable act. It defied all logic. This is against the rules of soldiering.”
“We have intelligence inputs that Pakistan’s elite Special Service Group commando force was involved in the cross-border raid, which led to the killing of two Indian soldiers,” the army chief added.
The beheading of an Indian soldier by Pakistani troops was not the first such incident. There have been three beheadings in the last decade. In July 2011, two soldiers from Rajput regiment were beheaded in Kupwara district of Jammu & Kashmir.