ONE OF the two porters killed in cross-border shelling in Jammu’s Poonch district on Friday morning could have been beheaded by Pakistan’s BAT (Border Action Troops).
While it was earlier believed that the head of 28-year-old Mohammad Aslam may have blown off due to a mortar blast, the Army has been unable to recover it so far, leading them to suspect BAT may have beheaded him.
If proved right, it would be the first instance of BAT, which comprises Pakistani army regulars and terrorists, targeting a civilian, although similar incidents involving security personnel have taken place in the past.
While the Army did not confirm a BAT role, Defence Ministry spokesperson Lt Colonel Devender Anand said that one of the porters had been found to be headless, and that they were investigating whether there was Pakistani hand in it. A senior police officer said the head appeared to have been severed by a sharp-edged weapon.
Asked about the incident at a press conference in Delhi Saturday, Army Chief Gen M M Naravane said that professional armies never resort to such “barbaric” acts. “We will deal appropriately with such situations in a military manner.”
The last such incident was reported back in September 2018, when a BSF jawan was killed and his body mutilated in Samba district, leading to the cancellation of Indo-Pak talks scheduled days later. In December 2017, bodies of four soldiers, including a Major, killed in Rajouri sector were found to be mutilated by a BAT team that infiltrated 300-400 metres inside the LoC. Similar incidents were reported in 2017, 2016 and 2013.
The two porters, along with four others, were injured during Pakistani shelling at Kassalian village in Poonch district, falling ahead of the barbed wire fence marking the Line of Control. The Army generally hires civilians for logistics duties here. While Aslam, a resident of Kasalian, was killed on the spot, fellow villager Altaf Hussain, 23, died on way to hospital. The families carried out the funeral on Friday evening.
The three injured porters are recuperating and said to be stable. The Army had retaliated with heavy firing to the attack.
Condemning the killings, the Congress asked why Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh were “silent” on the “barbarism” by Pakistan, and recalled that the BJP had attacked the UPA government mercilessly over the matter. “When will Pakistan’s cowardly acts be given a befitting reply? ‘10 heads for 1’ when?” Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala tweeted, referring to the BJP’s threats against Pakistan.