India Lodges Strong Protest with Pakistan over Soldiers’ Killing

Posted January 9th, 2013 at 7:55 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.”

At the same time, Kurshid said the issue should not derail the peace process between the two nuclear-armed neighbors.

An Indian army spokesman confirmed Wednesday that the body of one of the two soldiers had been beheaded.

Pakistani military officials say they have investigated, and found no evidence to prove the Indian allegations.

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.”

Pakistan's military said the Indian allegations are “propaganda to divert attention of the world from Sunday's raid on a Pakistani post by Indian troops, in which a Pakistani soldier was killed.”

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 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.