India Lodges Protest with Pakistan over Soldiers’ Killing

Posted January 9th, 2013 at 11:15 am (UTC-5)
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India has lodged a formal complaint with Pakistan over the killing of two Indian soldiers in an alleged cross-border attack by Pakistani troops in disputed Kashmir. Pakistan denies involvement.

Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid said Wednesday that India conveyed to Pakistan in very strong terms its concern about Tuesday's incident. India said the bodies of the two soldiers were subject to “barbaric and inhuman mutilation” and that the incident violated “all norms of international conduct.”

An Indian army spokesman said one of the two soldiers had been beheaded.

Pakistan called the Indian allegations “baseless and unfounded,” with Pakistani military officials saying they have found no evidence to prove them.

In an interview with an Indian television station , Pakistan's Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar also denied such an incident had taken place. She added that Pakistani forces had not attacked Indian troops in retaliation for the death of a Pakistani soldier in a raid Sunday by Indian troops on a Pakistani military post in Kashmir.

Khar said India and Pakistan could assist each other in probing Tuesday's incident and said Pakistan is prepared to hold investigations through the United Nations on “recent ceasefire violations” in disputed Kashmir.

India's military says its soldiers were on patrol Tuesday near the town of Mendhar when Pakistani troops took advantage of a heavy fog and crossed into Indian-controlled Kashmir, where they shot dead two Indian soldiers in a firefight.

Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony has called the treatment of the bodies “inhuman.”

“The Pakistan Army's action is highly provocative. The way they treated the dead bodies of the Indian soldiers is inhuman. We will convey our protest to the Pakistan government, and our DGMO (Director General of Military Operations) will talk to his counterpart in Pakistan. We are closely monitoring the situation.”

A senior analyst on South Asia at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Rahul Roy-Chaudury, told VOA the incident could negatively impact diplomatic relations between the two nuclear-armed neighbors.

“I think this comes at a difficult time because there has been in the last few years a sense of opportunity in terms of the diplomatic relations between India and Pakistan, a peace process is ongoing, there has been a dialogue between the two governments on a number of issues, including the Kashmir dispute, there is a possibility of Pakistan granting reciprocity India, the MFN status, Most Favored Nation status, which was expected by early this year.”

Pakistan's military said the Indian allegations are “propaganda to divert attention” from Sunday's raid on a Pakistani post by Indian troops.

The clash sparked a protest Wednesday in the central Indian city of Bhopal, where residents joined members of the youth wing of the ruling Congress party to denounce Pakistan and burn an effigy bearing the Pakistani flag. A demonstrator named Prakash said members of the Youth Congress will call on the country's leaders to take stringent action against Pakistan.

“Today, we members of the Youth Congress will write to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, and the country's youth leader Rahul Gandhi, and tell them that the youth of India are losing patience, and that stringent action be taken against Pakistan. There should be no more agreements and relations with Pakistan, because this is a matter of India's security and prestige.”

On Sunday, Pakistan said Indian troops crossed the disputed border known as the “Line of Control” and raided a Pakistani military outpost. They said Indian forces withdrew after an exchange of gunfire.

Pakistan protested the Indian attack.

Indian officials dismissed the Pakistani claims as baseless, saying their troops returned fire from across the border.

India and Pakistan have accused each other of several violations of a 2003 ceasefire in Kashmir, a region they both claim.

The South Asian neighbors, both of whom have nuclear weapons, have fought two wars over Kashmir since gaining independence from Britain in 1947.