India lodges protest over soldiers' killing, calls act as 'dastardly and inhuman'

Cong attacks Govt, asks its 'take off bangles' Pak a 'rogue state' says Venkaiah, Antony for giving Army free hand
Report by: 
Agencies
New Delhi/Bengaluru
2 May 2017

The Indian Army today lodged a strong protest with the Pakistani military over the beheading of its two soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir, calling it a "dastardly and inhuman" act which merited "unequivocal condemnation and response".

The savage incident along the Line of Control (LoC) on the Indian side also set off a spat between parties across the political divide. India's Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) spoke to his Pakistani counterpart and expressed "grave concern" over the beheading of two soldiers in the Krishna Ghati sector of Poonch in Jammu and Kashmir on Monday. "The DGMO of the Indian Army conveyed that such a dastardly and inhuman act is beyond any norms of civility and merits unequivocal condemnation and response," the army said in a statement. The DGMO also conveyed to his Pakistani counterpart that "full fire" support was provided by their army post located in the vicinity of the place where Indian soldiers were decapitated. The Army said the DGMO communicated India's concerns over the presence of Border Action Team (BAT) training camps close to the LoC in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir.

The Indian army has already vowed an "appropriate" response to the "despicable act". The Pakistani army establishment has denied its involvement in the attack. A day after the incident triggered outrage, Congress mounted a scathing assault on the Modi government, asking it to "take off the bangles" and avenge the killing of Indian security personnel. Bangles are considered a sign of femininity. "It is unfortunate that prime minister and the government do not have any policy on national security...We urge this government to take off its bangles and do something," senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal said in New Delhi.

Sibal also attacked the government over the additional charge of defence ministry to finance minister Arun Jaitley, saying there cannot be an effective defence policy without a full-time minister. After India's DGMO's tough talk about a "response" to the brazen slaughter of two soldiers, union minister M Venkaiah Naidu called Pakistan and "rogue" state and spoke of reprisal. Responding to the Opposition's comments questioning the political will of the government to take military action against Pakistan, Naidu said: "There is will, there is kill." "We are very firm, we will do whatever is possible, and the government is already at it, and you will hear about it," Naidu told newspersons in Bengaluru.

"It (the act of mutilation) is condemnable ...it is not right to make public statements on what the response should be... the defence minister has made a statement. You will get the information with confirmation on what the result will be," he said. "You will see that the government of India will take appropriate action," Naidu said. Senior Congress leader and former defence minister A K Antony said the Army should be given a free hand to take appropriate action against Pakistan. The Congress leader also raised questions over the security along the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan, saying the incident has affected the prestige, respect and morale of the Indian Army.

Asserting that he was not seeking to politicise the issue, Antony said while only one incident of mutilation happened during his eight-year stint as defence minister, the last three years have witnessed three such incidents. The government came under fire also from its old saffron ally Shiv Sena, with its senior leader and Maharashtra minister Ramdas Kadam asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi to "sit up and think". "After one surgical strike by us, they (Pakistan) have killed our soldiers ten times more. The prime minister should sit up and think how to avenge it," he said in Mumbai.

Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad asserted the sacrifice made by the fallen soldiers would not go in vain. "The army has vowed to take effective action....we should trust our security forces." Amid the political wrangling, Jammu and Kashmir Governor N N Vora met Union home minister Rajnath Singh and discussed the situation obtaining in the restive valley as also along the LoC. Apart from issues like infiltration from across the border, the activities of separatists and violent protests by students, the situation along the LoC after the killing of two soldiers was also discussed.