Pak Army Commandos Intrude Inside LoC ; Kill 2 Army Jawans, Injure 2

Pak Army Commandos Intrude Inside LoC ; Kill 2 Army Jawans, Injure 2

8 January 2013
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: In the first incident of its kind after November 2003 ceasefire and second during over two and a half decades long militancy which fueled hostilities between India and Pakistan, the Pakistani troops, believed to be commandos, today intruded about 600 meters deep inside the Indian territory on the Line of Control (LoC) at Mankot sector in Mendhar tehsil of Poonch district, ambushed an Army patrol, killed two jawans and injured two others. They chopped off heads of two deceased jawans and took away one of the head with them while fleeing back along with their service weapons and other material including magazines. The intrusion by a group of nearly a dozen Pakistan Army personnel of 29 Balouch deep inside the Indian territory, who were on a stealth mission, killing of two Army soldiers and taking away the head of one of them and weapons came just a couple of days after T20 and one day series between India and Pakistan cricket teams, which was the first after 26-11 Mumbai blasts and was aimed at restoration of normal ties between the two neighbours, concluded. The incident also came just a couple of days after Pakistan firing and shelling in Uri sector of Baramulla district in which a house on Indian side was badly damaged. In retaliatory fire by the Indian troops, a Pakistan Army jawan was killed. Defence Ministry and External Affairs Ministry besides the Army headquarters, which were briefed about the incident this afternoon by the Army authorities here, have taken very serious notice of the incident and would be lodging a strong protest with Pakistan High Commission tomorrow. General Officer Commanding (GOC)-in-C Lt Gen KT Parnaik flew to the spot immediately after getting a report of the incident and spoke to senior officers of the Army. Later, Army chief Gen Bikram Singh spoke to Lt Gen Parnaik from New Delhi on the incident. Official sources told the Excelsior that a group of nearly 12 Pakistan Army jawans of 29 Balouch, all of whom were believed to be commandos going by the black dresses they were wearing from head to toe, ambushed a patrol party of five Army jawans between Chatri and Atma posts in Mankot sector in Mendhar tehsil after intruding about 600 meters deep inside the Indian territory in broad day light at 11.30 am ahead of the fencing today and opened indiscriminate firing on the jawans, who retaliated. As Pakistani troops (commandos) outnumbered the area domination patrol party of Indian Army comprising five soldiers of 13 Raj Rifles, two Army jawans were killed on spot and the intruders injured two others in the firing. The Pakistan Army personnel were reported to have beheaded two killed Army jawans and took the head of one of them along with them with their two AK-47 rifles to Pakistan. A senior officer without saying that head of one of the jawan was taken by the Pakistan Army confirmed that body of one of the jawans was badly mutilated. The Pakistani troops fled back to their installations within few minutes. The dead Army jawans have been identified as Lance Naik Hem Raj R-o Mathura, UP and Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh R-o Jhansar, MP. Two Army jawans were injured in the firing. Army personnel from their nearby posts rushed to the spot soon after hearing the sound of gun shots and launched an operation. The troops saw Pakistan Army personnel, who were commandos of Border Action Team (BAT) of 29 Balouch, fleeing towards their forward Barbad and PP posts, opposite Mankot sector of Mendhar tehsil. The Pakistan action team also took away two service weapons of the deceased Army jawans with them. Army jawans shifted the bodies to the hospital. Two injured soldiers were airlifted to Command Hospital in Udhampur. Army has videographed and photographed the spot as evidence to lodge protest with Pakistan Army for their brutal and gruesome act of killing Army jawans in the stealth mission by intruding inside the Indian territory. Sources said the area where the incident took place was well ahead of border fencing. 'It was a stealth mission i.e. a very well planned operation in which Pakistan Army commandos had been maintaining vigil and looking for the area where there was very less presence of the Indian troops. As only five jawans were part of the patrolling between Chatri and Atma posts and other forward Indian positions were located at quite a distance, they picked up the spot and raided it. The entire operation might have lasted just 5 to 10 minutes and the Pakistani troops managed to escape before the arrival of other jawans on the spot’’, they added. Reacting to the incident, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tweeted that violation of ceasefire is bad enough and to resort to mutilating soldiers is unacceptable in any civilized society. 'The ceasefire must hold else infiltration will shoot up manifold under cover provided by firing’’, Omar said, adding: 'clearly someone up the chain of command wants to do everything to derail any dialogue between the two countries’’. Army's Additional Director General (Public Information) Maj Gen S L Narasimhan said in New Delhi that Northern Commander Lt Gen K T Parnaik has visited the scene of action and confirmed that one of the two bodies was 'mutilated'. 'Northern Army Commander is in that area and as per him, one body is mutilated.' He said there was 'no doubt' that Pakistani troops were behind the incident and 'they seem to have entered the Indian territory taking advantage of the thick fog and mist there.' Asked about the preparation of Indian troops in the region, Narasimhan said, 'our soldiers are on alert and there are Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) on such issues and they are being taken care off.' The Army Headquarters has also briefed the Defence Ministry on the issue, he added. Army's Northern Command came out with a statement terming the attack as a 'significant escalation' to the continuing series of ceasefire violations and infiltration attempts supported by Pakistan Army. 'A group of their regular soldiers intruded across the Line of Control in Mendhar sector today. Pakistan Army troops, having taken advantage of thick fog and mist in the forested area, were moving towards our posts when an alert area domination patrol spotted and engaged the intruders. 'The fire fight between Pakistan and our troops continued for approximately half an hour after which the intruders retreated towards their side of LoC. Two soldiers Lance Naik Hemraj and Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh laid down their lives while fighting the Pakistani troops,' the statement said without giving any further details. This is yet another 'grave provocation' by Pakistan Army, which is being taken up sternly through official channels, the statement said. The External Affairs Ministry is in touch with the Defence Ministry over the incident. This was the first incident of this kind after ceasefire agreement between India and Pakistan came into force in November 2003 at both LoC and International Border and second since militancy broke out in Jammu and Kashmir about two and a half decades ago leading to fresh Indo-Pak hostilities. The first such incident was executed by Ilyas Kashmir, a Pakistan Army soldier turned a dreaded commander of Harkat-ul-Jehad Islami (HuJI), in Nowshera sector of Rajouri district in February 2000 when he along with his associates and Pakistani troops had attacked the Army jawans and killed 9 Army personnel. He had chopped off head of one of the Army jawan identified as Sepoy Bhausaheb Maruti Talekar of the 17 Maratha Light Infantry (MLI) and taken it to Pakistan. Ilyas Kashmir had shown the head to the then Pakistan Army chief Gen Pervez Musharraf and earned a handsome reward. There had been unconfirmed reports sometime back that Ilyas Kashmiri was killed in a US drone strike in North Waziristan. Talekar, the 24-year-old soldier from Maharashtra, was posted at a border listening post. Ashok LP post in Rajouri district - that was surrounded by three Pakistani posts when it was attacked in the early hours of February 27, 2000 by Pakistani troops and irregulars. At that time also, the two armies were lodged in an intense exchange of fire - small arms and artillery - that was taking place all along the LoC. Meanwhile, Pakistan Army started heavy firing on Indian positions at 8.45 pm tonight in almost entire Krishna Ghati sector. The Indian side retaliated. Heavy, medium and small arms fire were used by both sides in the firing that continued till late tonight. There were no casualties or damage on Indian side in the firing. Casualties, if any, on the other side were not known. Firing by Pakistani troops in Krishna Ghati sector has become a regular feature. There has been escalation in ceasefire violations by Pakistan army, which has been attempting to push militants across the LoC into Indian side by taking advantage of inclement weather. In last about one month, Pakistan Army has violated the ceasefire agreement nearly a dozen times. Most of these firing incidents were in Rajouri, Uri and Keran sector to help infiltration attempts, Army officials said. The attack comes a day after Pakistan lodged a strong protest over what it described as an 'unprovoked Indian attack' on one of its military posts along the Line of Control, a claim which the Indian Army rejected. Indian Deputy High Commissioner Gopal Bagley was called to the Foreign Office in Islamabad yesterday and handed over a protest note over the incident in the Haji Pir sector. The incident had resulted in the death of a Pakistani soldier and injuries to another, the Pakistani side claimed. However, Army Headquarters in New Delhi said 'no such incident has taken place where our soldiers have attacked any Pakistani post.' This was a chilling reminder of the brutal attack on Capt Saurabh Kalia and his team by Pakistani troops in Kaksar sector of Kargil during the 1999 conflict. In October last year, three civilians were killed in Uri sector due to Pakistani mortar firing on a village of Churunda in North Kashmir. Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed 71 incidents of cross-border firing and ceasefire violations along Indo-Pak border in which 7 persons including 4 security personnel were killed and 15 others were injured last year. There were 51 cases of cross-border firing and ceasefire violations in 2011 as compared to 44 cases of ceasefire violations along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir were registered in 2010 aThe increase in firings incidents and ceasefire violations by Pakistan came close on the heels of detection of 400-meter long tunnel in Jammu and Kashmir's Samba sector on July 28 and subsequent lodging of strong protest over the tunnel issue on July 31. PTI adds from New Delhi: Terming the killing of two of its soldiers by Pakistan Army as a 'provocative action', India today said it will take up the issue with Islamabad. 'The Government of India considers the incident as a provocative action and we condemn it. Directors General of Military Operations (DGMOs) of the two countries are in touch over it. 'The Government will take up the incident with Pakistan Government. We expect Islamabad to honour the ceasefire agreement strictly,' the Defence Ministry said in a statement. Meanwhile, BSF is on 'alert' and ready to thwart any attempt along the Indo-Pakistan border in the wake of the incident where Pakistani troops crossed into Indian territory and ambushed an Army patrol party killing two soldiers. 'We are on alert. The force is ready for any challenge with respect to the part of border that we guard,' BSF chief Subhash Joshi said. Meanwhile, India today firmly told Pakistan to uphold the sanctity of the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir in the backdrop of the recent firing incidents over which the two countries engaged in a blame game. A day after its Deputy High Commissioner was called to the Pakistan Foreign Office to lodge a protest over what it termed as an 'unprovoked Indian attack' on one of its military posts along the LoC, India denied violating the ceasefire, saying, Pakistan troops started 'unprovoked firing' on Indian troops who undertook controlled retaliation in response. 'We deny that Indian troops had crossed the Line of Control in the Rampur sector or had violated the ceasefire. 'The fact is that in the early hours of January 6, Pakistan troops in the sector commenced unprovoked firing on Indian troops. The roof of a civilian house in Churunda village was damaged in the Pak mortar fire. Indian troops undertook controlled retaliation in response,' the official spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs said here. 'We also call upon the Pakistan authorities to ensure that the sanctity of the Line of Control is upheld at all times and to ensure that such incidents of unprovoked firing across the LoC do not recur,' he said. He also asserted that 'India is strongly committed to the sanctity of the LoC in Jammu & Kashmir, which is the most important Confidence Building Measure (CBM) between the two countries. The ceasefire along the LoC, which has largely held since 2003, is an important element of this CBM. The Director Generals for Military Operations (DGMOs) of both sides have spoken to each other on the incident.' Claiming that Indian troops had allegedly crossed the LoC and 'raided' a border post, Pakistan said its troops 'effectively responded and repulsed the attack successfully'. The incident had resulted in the death of a Pakistani soldier and injuries to another, they also charged. However, the Indian Army denied the incident and said 'no such incident has taken place where our soldiers have attacked any Pakistani post.' Indian Army sources also said this allegation by the Pakistani Army seems to be an attempt to cover up its firing on Indian posts in Uri sector. Senior former Army officers today condemned the attack by Pakistani troops killing two soldiers with some of them raising questions over the ongoing efforts to establish peaceful relations between the two countries. 'It is a shocking incident that has taken place. In that intrusion one of our patrols is ambushed and then bodies are mutilated. It is a serious incident and can have serious repercussions. The point is that there have been so many ceasefire violations,' former Army Chief Gen V P Malik said. The former Army Chief, who led the Army during the Kargil war, said, 'I do not think that our diplomatic channels are taking the gross situation into consideration. There is a serious disconnect.' Maj Gen (Retd) Sheru Thapliyal, who led a division in Jammu and Kashmir, said the incident highlights the point that the Pakistan Army is not serious about having peace with India. 'On one hand we are having these talks and holding cricket matches while on the other hand, Pakistan Army troops attack and kill our soldiers. To add insult to injury, they even decapitated our troops,' he said. Thapliyal said India should realise that Pakistan will not change and there should be a review of decisions to have peace talks and cricketing ties with it.