India slammed archrival Pakistan yesterday over a firefight in the disputed territory of Kashmir in which two of its soldiers were killed and said the mutilation of one of the bodies was “inhuman.”
According to India, Pakistani troops crossed the territory’s heavily militarized Line of Control (LOC) and fired at one of its army patrols on Tuesday.
One of the two soldiers killed was decapitated by Pakistani troops, who then carried away his head, chief Indian military spokesman J. Dahiya told reporters yesterday.
“We can confirm that one of the Indian soldiers was beheaded by the Pakistani Army in Kashmir,” Dahiya said. “It was a dastardly act as they have taken away the head.”
Military sources had earlier indicated that the soldier had been decapitated, but Dahiya said he was only able to confirm the beheading after the victim’s next of kin had been informed.
A Pakistan military official has denied that Pakistani troops fired on Indian troops or killed any Indian soldiers.
However, Dahiya rejected the Pakistani response.
“They seem to be in a state of denial,” he said. “We are absolutely convinced Pakistan Army regulars were involved because it was a surgical strike with high-caliber weapons.”
India also summoned Pakistan’s envoy to New Delhi to protest over the alleged incident.
“[The] Pakistan Army’s action is highly provocative,” Indian Minister of Defense A.K. Antony told reporters in New Delhi shortly before Pakistani High Commissioner Salman Bashir was summoned to meet India’s foreign secretary over the incident.
“The way they treated the dead body of the Indian soldier is inhuman. We will convey our protest to the Pakistan government,” he said.
Firing and small skirmishes between the two countries are common along the 740km LOC despite a ceasefire and slowly improving bilateral ties. The Indian Army says eight of its soldiers were killed last year in 75 incidents.
However, incursions by troops from either side are rare and one Indian media report said that Tuesday’s incident — about 600m from the de facto border — marked the “first major ingress” since the ceasefire was agreed in 2003.
Indian officials said cross-border fire broke out hours after the clash, but the LOC was quiet yesterday.
Pakistan has denied India’s allegations, with a Pakistani Army spokesman describing them as “propaganda” aimed at diverting attention away from an Indian incursion two days earlier in which one Pakistani soldier was killed. India denies that its troops crossed over the line during last weekend’s incident.
A Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs official dismissed the clash.
“These small issues have been going on for years — I don’t think it will have much overall effect on the [peace] talks going on,” said the official, who asked not to be named.
There was little coverage of the skirmish in Pakistani media, but a succession of commentators voiced fury on Indian television news channels and the main opposition party urged the government to expose Pakistan’s actions to the international community.
“Pakistan can be named and shamed for this brutal attack,” Bharatiya Janata Party leader Arun Jaitley told reporters.
India sees the entire Kashmir region as an integral part of its territory. Pakistan contests that and demands implementation of a 1948 UN Security Council resolution for a plebiscite to determine the wishes of Kashmiris.
India and Pakistan have fought three wars since independence in 1947, two of them over the region.