India Lashes Out at Pakistan After Deadly Kashmir Encounter

Wednesday, 09 Jan 2013 04:56 AM

 

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JAMMU, India — India slammed arch-rival Pakistan Wednesday 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."

India also summoned Pakistan's envoy to New Delhi to protest over Tuesday's incident, in which — according to India — Pakistani troops crossed the territory's heavily militarized Line of Control (LoC) and fired at one of its army patrols.

The body of one of the soldiers was found "badly mutilated" in a forested area on the side controlled by India, Rajesh K. Kalia, spokesman for the Indian army's Northern Command, said. However, he denied Indian media reports that one of the bodies had been decapitated and the throat of another had been slit.

"Pakistan Army's action is highly provocative," Indian Defense Minister 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 740-km (460-mile) LoC despite a cease-fire and slowly improving bilateral ties. The Indian army says eight of its soldiers were killed in 2012, in 75 incidents.

However, incursions by troops from either side are rare, and one Indian media report said that Tuesday's incident — about 600 meters from the de facto border — marked the "first major ingress" since the cease-fire was agreed in 2003.

Indian army officials said cross-border firing broke out hours after the clash but on Wednesday the LoC was quiet.

"PAKISTAN CAN BE NAMED AND SHAMED"

Pakistan has denied India's allegations, with an 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 foreign ministry official dismissed the latest 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 TV 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 considers the entire Kashmir region of snow-capped mountains and fertile valleys an integral part of its territory. Pakistan contests that and demands implementation of a 1948 U.N. Security Council resolution for a plebiscite to determine the wishes of the Kashmiri people.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since their independence in 1947, two of them over the Himalayan region.

Some commentators drew parallels between Tuesday's clash and a conflict in 1999 when Pakistani-backed Islamist infiltrators occupied the Kargil heights in the north of Indian Kashmir. India lost hundreds of troops before re-occupying the mountains after bitter fighting that almost triggered a fourth war.

Away from the border, however, ties had appeared to be improving. Pakistan's cricket team completed a two-week tour of India on Sunday, the first time it had visited in five years.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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