Jammu: In a gruesome attack, Pakistani troops on Tuesday crossed into Indian territory and ambushed an Army patrol party killing two soldiers whose heads were reportedly chopped off.
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The attack took place along the Line of Control in Poonch district when Pakistanis came about 100 metres into Indian territory and assaulted the patrol party. Besides killing two Lance Naiks, Hemraj and Sudhakar Singh, they also injured two other soldiers.
During the brutal assault on the patrol party, the Pakistanis are said to have chopped off their heads, one of which they carried with them, informed sources said. However, the Army, while confirming the killing of Indian soldiers, did not comment on reports that they had been beheaded.
According to the sources, the Border Action Team (BAT) of Pakistani Army entered the Indian territory at Krishna Ghati area of Poonch district and carried out the strikes.
Army's Udhampur-based Northern Command came out with a statement terming the attack as a "significant escalation" to the continuing series of ceasefire violations and infiltration attempts supported by Pakistan Army.
"A group of their regular soldiers intruded across the Line of Control in the Mendhar Sector on January 8. Pakistan army troops, having taken advantage of thick fog and mist in the forested area, were moving towards our posts when an alert area domination patrol spotted and engaged the intruders," it said.
"The fire fight between Pakistan and our troops continued for approximately half an hour after which the intruders retreated towards their side of LoC. Two soldiers Lance Naik Hemraj and Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh laid down their lives while fighting the Pakistani troops," it said without giving any further details.
This is yet another "grave provocation" by Pakistan Army which is being taken up sternly through official channels, the statement said.
The External Affairs Ministry is in touch with the Defence Ministry over the incident. There has been escalation in ceasefire violations by Pakistan army, which has been attempting to push militants across the LoC into Indian side by taking advantage of inclement weather.
In last about one month, Pakistan army has violated the ceasefire agreement nearly a dozen times. Most of these firing incidents were in Rajouri, Uri and Keran sector to help infiltration attempts, army officials said.
The attack comes a day after Pakistan lodged a strong protest over what it described as an "unprovoked Indian attack" on one of its military posts along the Line of Control, a claim which the Indian Army rejected.
Indian Deputy High Commissioner Gopal Bagley was called to the Foreign Office in Islamabad yesterday and handed over a protest note over the incident in the Haji Pir sector.
The incident had resulted in the death of a Pakistani soldier and injuries to another, the Pakistani side claimed. However, Army Headquarters in New Delhi said "no such incident has taken place where our soldiers have attacked any Pakistani post."
The incident took place between Indian posts of Chatri and Atma posts in Krishna Ghati sector at 11:30 AM. The weapons and other material carried by the dead and injured jawans were taken away by the Pakistani troops, the sources said.
This was a chilling reminder of the brutal attack on Capt Saurabh Kalia and his team by Pakistani troops in Kaksar sector of Kargil during the 1999 conflict.
In October last year, three civilians were killed in Uri sector due to Pakistani mortar firing on a village of Churunda in North Kashmir.
Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed 71 incidents of cross-border firing and ceasefire violations along Indo-Pak border in which 7 persons including 4 security personnel were killed and 15 others were injured last year.
There were 51 cases of cross-border firing and ceasefire violations in 2011 as compared to 44 cases of ceasefire violations along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir were registered in 2010 and 28 were in 2009.
The increase in firings incidents and ceasefire violations by Pakistan came close on the heels of detection of 400-meter long tunnel in Jammu and Kashmir's Samba sector on July 28 and subsequent lodging of strong protest over the tunnel issue on July 31.
Army's Additional Director General (Public Information) Maj Gen S L Narasimhan said Northern Commander Lt Gen KT Parnaik has visited the scene of action and confirmed that one of the two bodies was "mutilated".
"Northern Army Commander is in that area and as per him, one body is mutilated." He said there was "no doubt" that Pakistani troops were behind the incident and "they seem to have entered the Indian territory taking advantage of the thick fog and mist there."
Asked about the preparation of Indian troops in the region, Narasimhan said, "our soldiers are on alert and there are Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) on such issues and they are being taken care off."
Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh has talked to Lt Gen Parnaik on the issue to take stock of the situation there. The Army Headquarters has also briefed the Defence Ministry on the issue.