M A I N   N E W S

At Poonch flag meeting, Pak still in denial mode
Tribune News Service

Jammu/Poonch/Islamabad, Jan 14
The Indian Army today lodged a strong protest with Pakistan over the “barbaric” killing of two of its soldiers and recurring violations of the ceasefire agreement by the latter’s troops during the Brigade Commander-level flag meeting at Chakan-da-Bagh crossing point on the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch.

In a brazen denial, the Pakistan Army said it was not involved in the killing of the Indian soldiers and mutilation of their bodies on January 8 and did not have Lance Naik Hemraj’s head. It refused to accept that its troops crossed the LoC to target Indian posts. It claimed a Pakistani citizen was injured in firing from the Indian side in Battal sector on Monday.

Army sources said the flag meeting began around 1pm and lasted about 35 minutes.

“We lodged a strong protest with Pakistan over its soldiers resorting to open aggression in the KG Sector and killing two Indian soldiers besides mutilating their bodies on January 8,” sources said.

The Indian side also vehemently raised the issue of recurring ceasefire violations by Pakistan along the LoC. Pakistan has violated the ceasefire at the LoC 10 times already this year. Last year, 117 violations were reported, which was a 100 per cent increase from 61 in 2011.

“While voicing serious concern over brutal killing and mutilation of the bodies of two soldiers, the Indian Army demanded the severed head of the beheaded soldier, which was taken away by intruding Pakistan Army troops,” sources said.

Lt Col Rajesh Kalia, PRO (Defence) Headquarters Northern Command, said the Army raised a strong protest against the “heinous mutilation” of the deceased soldiers’ bodies, pointing out that it was against the tenets of the Geneva Convention as also in contravention of all established norms of soldierly behaviour.

“Our representative expressed our grave concern over the barbaric act by Pakistani troops in the recent ambush of our patrol in the Mendhar Sector. It was conveyed to the Pakistan delegation that such a dastardly and cowardly act is totally unacceptable and is a pre-meditated attempt to undermine the ceasefire agreement of 2003 and can lead to further escalation,” the PRO said.

He further said: “It was conveyed in no uncertain terms that repetition of such acts would not be tolerated and the Indian Army reserves the right to retaliate at the place and time of our own choosing in case they recur.”

He, however, said the Pakistan Army’s response was on “expected lines” as the Pakistani delegation leader denied their involvement in the incident, besides denying any ceasefire violations by their troops.

“The Pakistani delegation also reiterated false and fabricated allegations that our troops crossed over the Line of Control and killed one Pakistani soldier and injured another. Their response was on expected lines wherein they stated that no ceasefire violation has been initiated by their troops,” the PRO said.

He said the situation along the Line of Control was being closely monitored and Indian soldiers were maintaining necessary vigil.

“Apart from the discussion on various issues related to cross-border terrorism and ceasefire violations, the Indian Army also favoured the resumption of trade and travel from Poonch sector to restore normalcy on the border. The Pakistan Army, however, made no commitment on the resumption of cross-LoC trade and travel, which it had suspended following massive outrage over the killing of two Indian soldiers,” he said. Pakistan unilaterally suspended cross-LoC trade and travel at Chakan-Da-Bagh crossing point in Poonch sector since Thursday and Friday, respectively.

Brazen Stand

The Pakistan Army reiterated that it was not involved in the killing of the Indian soldiers and mutilation of their bodies on January 8 in the KG Sector

It also denied that it had the head of Lance Naik Hemraj and refused to accept that its troops had crossed the Line of Control (LoC) to target Indian posts

Pakistan has violated the ceasefire at the LoC 10 times already this year





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