While India has been defensive, Pakistan has always been offensive towards us. It is only when they attack, we retaliate. The same incident happened this time, too, in the Kashmir Valley, when the Pakistani troops crossed the LoC and killed two of our soldiers—Lance Naik Hemraj and Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh—in the Krishna Ghati Sector of Poonch, 200 km from Jammu, on January 8.
Two more soldiers of 13 Raj Rifles were injured when a contingent of Pakistani regular army opened fire between Chhatri and Atma outposts on the LoC in the Mankote area of Krishna Ghati.
India summoned Pakistan’s envoy in New Delhi to protest strongly over the killings and mutilation of two of its soldiers after the second firings erupted in three days between the nuclear-armed neighbours. “The government of Pakistan was asked to immediately investigate these actions that are in contravention of all norms of international conduct and ensure that these do not recur,” the Indian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
According to the army sources, the ambush was laid 600 metres inside the Indian territory and the Pakistani soldiers retreated towards their side of Line of Control after beheading one of the two soldiers and decamping with their weapons.
The most unacceptable part of this whole ambush is the beheading of one of the soldiers. Rather than accepting the gruesome act, Pakistan accused Indian army of killing a Pakistani soldier in the Haji Pir area of Poonch Sector and termed the whole incident as “Indian propaganda”.
Declaring the incident “unacceptable and unpardonable”, Army Chief General Bikram Singh has done the most appropriate job saying, “India reserves rights to retaliate at the time and place of its choice.” He added that India’s military had been asked to respond “aggressively and offensively”.
“We have firing plans with us, but I do not want to divulge anything at this moment. But, we will answer them,” General Singh said. This is the most befitting reply to the enemy which every jawan expects from his leader.
Uday India had an opportunity to visit the areas and an experience of staying with the soldiers in bunkers in Mendhar, Krishnaghati, Bir Bhadreshwar of Poonch Sector and watching their life from close quarters.
The slangs used by the Pakistani soldiers from their respective posts are intolerable, said a jawan, stationed at a bunker in the Krishnaghati Sector, close to a Pakistani post. While patrolling, he said, “They often use gaalis of M**, B****… every evening and when the cricket matches are on, they often fire crackers towards us, but we are ordered to be restrained.”
Life in bunkers with minimum resources, which every jawan has to undergo while guarding the Indian side of LoC for three years, is a must. They hardly find time to have sound sleep. Patrolling and alertness are the only activities in the front areas.
A jawan on duty on the LoC in the Krishnaghati Sector, Lovejeet Singh says, “Fauj main suna tha 10 ghante duty ke baad purey waqt aapka, lekin yahan aakar pata chala 24 ghante jagey rehna padhta hain.”
But, the jawans never compromise when on duty because they love their motherland.
The beheading of the Indian soldier by Pakistani troops was not the first such incident. There have been three decapitations in the last decade also. In July 2011, two soldiers from Rajput Regiment were beheaded in the Kupwara district of Jammu and Kashmir.
India and Pakistan have been observing a ceasefire since November 2003, but relations between the two countries continue to be tense and the tension has escalated this month further.
Tension is rising between India and Pakistan following a series of shooting incidents on the border. The two sides have also stopped all confidence-building measures that were initiated after the 2004 peace process. The exchange of firings between the two sides has brought bilateral trade to a standstill.
Kashmir is one of the thorniest issues that has caused a lot of strain in Pakistan-India relations. The simmering tensions over the disputed territory have resulted in a huge loss of lives and properties in Kashmir. Despite repeated promise to solve the issue, the two countries have failed to reach a comprehensive agreement over Kashmir.
Kashmir in the midst of insurgency has been a flashpoint in South Asia. Both India and Pakistan, now a nuclear-powered states, have fought three wars in the past five decades and two of them were fought over Kashmir.
It is unclear whether the latest clashes between the two countries will derail the steps taken to shore up their bilateral ties since the 2008 terror attacks on Mumbai by Pakistani militants.
The recent high-level negotiations have included a new visa agreement easing restrictions for travellers and planning to bolster trade ties between the two sides.
We have never learnt from our past experience that Pakistan cannot be relied upon. If Army Chief goes by his words, we hope the situation will be at least acceptable. If we don’t change our stand, soldiers like Lance Naik Hemraj and Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh will continue to lay down their lives on the borders and justice for them will remain elusive.
By Joydeep Dasgupta from the LoC