Hours after the Pakistan High Commissioner was summoned over the killing of two Indian soldiers and the mutilation of their bodies by a Pakistan border action team that crossed the Line of Control Monday in the Krishna Ghati sector of Poonch in Jammu and Kashmir, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley Wednesday accused the Pakistan Army of “active participation” and “actual indulgence” in the “barbaric” act. Emerging from a meeting of the Union Cabinet, Jaitley dismissed Islamabad’s denial of any role in the incident, saying it had “no credibility”. “The fact is that cover firing was provided, those who carried out the act were helped to escape. On such a heavily guarded border, where posts are within few metres of each other, this cannot happen without the protection or the participation or the actual indulgence of the (Pakistan) Army itself,” he said.
Asked about the options before the government, Jaitley, who is a member of the Cabinet Committee on Security that also met Wednesday, said: “Aap apni fauj par bharosa rakhiye (trust your Army)… We do not discuss the CCS meeting with the media.” Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who met J&K Governor N N Vohra a day earlier, also held talks Wednesday with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Intelligence Bureau chief Rajiv Jain, Research & Analysis Wing chief Anil Dhasmana and Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi. Earlier in the day, Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit was summoned by Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar who told him that Islamabad must act against Pakistan Army soldiers and commanders responsible for the “barbaric act of mutilation”.
This the first time, in recent months, that the Ministry of External Affairs has directly blamed the Pakistan Army for the killing and mutilation of bodies of Indian soldiers. Jaishankar told Basit that “blood samples of the Indian soldiers” that have been collected and the “trail of blood” at Roza Nala clearly showed that the “killers returned across the Line of Control”. Sources told The Indian Express that Basit was given “gory details” of the killing and mutilation, and that there was “visual” evidence. During the meeting, the Indian side made it known that such behaviour could invite “retaliation” from Indian field commanders.
“He (Basit) was given the gory details, and was asked to take this issue very seriously. He was told of the possibility that such an act provokes Indian troops on the LoC, and they may retaliate if the Pakistan Army does not make amends,” a government source said. “He was told politely, but firmly, to convey the sense of outrage to Islamabad and Rawalpindi, so that corrective measures are taken by authorities in Pakistan,” the source said. While he denied the role of the Pakistan Army in the incident, Basit told Jaishankar that he would convey the contents of the demarche.
Sources said Basit, who was accompanied by Deputy High Commissioner Syed Haider Shah, “listened very carefully” to all points raised by the Foreign Secretary. In a statement later, Gopal Baglay, spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, said: “Foreign Secretary conveyed India’s outrage at the killing and the barbaric act of mutilation of two Indian soldiers on May 1, 2017 by Pakistan Army personnel.” “It was significant that the attack was preceded by covering fire from Pakistani posts in Battal sector (in the vicinity of village Battal). Blood samples of the Indian soldiers that have been collected and the trail of blood on Roza Nala clearly shows that the killers returned across the Line of Control. Government of India demands that Pakistan take immediate action against its soldiers and commanders responsible for this heinous act,” he said.
Calling the killing and mutilation of the bodies a “strong act of provocation”, Baglay said there was “sufficient evidence” of the role of the Pakistani Army. “We have proof it was carried out by the Pakistan Army. We have demanded from Pakistan that whoever from their Army was behind this incident must be punished,” he said. Asked whether India would consider revoking the ‘most favoured nation’ status to Pakistan, Baglay said it was a WTO obligation that all members extend to each other. “It’s with others also, not just Pakistan,” he said.