(Eds: Updating with Pakistan army’s reaction)
Jammu, May 1 (PTI) Under the cover of heavy mortar fire, a Pakistani special forces team sneaked 250 metres across the Line of Control (LoC) into the Poonch sector and beheaded two Indian security personnel today, officials said.
The Indian Army vowed an “appropriate” response to the “despicable act”, which significantly took place a day after Pakistan army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa visited some areas along the LoC and promised support to the Kashmiris.
The Pakistan army denied that it was involved in any attack.
Defence Minister Arun Jaitley said in Delhi that the “sacrifice (of the two killed) will not go in vain” and the Indian armed forces will react “appropriately” to the “inhuman act” of the Pakistani troops.
“This is a reprehensible and an inhuman act. Such attacks do not take place during war,” he said.
“Bodies of soldiers being mutilated is an extreme form of barbaric act. The government of India strongly condemns this act. The whole country has full faith in our armed forces which will react appropriately to the act,” Jaitley said.
The attack was carried out by the Border Action Team (BAT), which comprises the special forces, under the cover of shelling by Pakistani troops in Krishna Ghati Sector in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir, officials said.
The army issued a statement saying that the bodies of an army soldier and a BSF head constable were mutilated but a senior army officer told PTI that they were beheaded.
The soldiers killed were Naib Subedar Paramjeet Singh of 22 Sikh Infantry and Head Constable Prem Sagar of 200th Battalion of BSF. A BSF constable Rajinder Singh was injured but is out of danger.
The BAT team had set up an ambush to target the patrol party of the Indian soldiers while the Pakistan Army engaged two Indian forward defence locations (FDL) with rockets and mortar bombs, the officials said.
“It was a pre-planned operation of the Pakistan Army.
They had pushed in BAT teams over 250 meters deep inside Indian territory and set up ambushes for a long period to carry out the attack,” a senior army official said.
“The Pakistani army posts attacked two FDL posts with rockets and mortar bombs at 0830 hours and engaged them,” the official said.
“Their target was a 7 to 8-member patrol party, which had come out of the post,” the official said.
He said as the posts were engaged, the patrol party men ran here and there.
“Two members of the patrol party, who were left behind, were attacked by the BAT team and killed. Their bodies were badly mutilated,” the official said.
“Pakistani Army carried out unprovoked rocket and mortar firing on two forward posts on the Line of Control in Krishna Ghati Sector (in Poonch district) this morning,” a defence ministry spokesman said.
“Simultaneously, a BAT (Border Action Team) action was launched on a patrol operating in between the two posts,” said a statement issued by the Northern Army Command.
“In an unsoldierly act by the Pakistani Army, the bodies of two of our soldiers in the patrol were mutilated,” the spokesman said, adding, “Such a despicable act of the Pakistan Army will be appropriately responded to.”
According to reports, at 0825 hours, Pakistani army’s 647 Mujahid Battalion targeted India’s forward post ‘Kirpan’ from its post ‘Pimple’ in Krishna Ghati sector.
It was followed by attack on another forward post in the same area.
A senior BSF officer said that at about 0830 hours, there was heavy firing from the Pakistani army posts at BSF posts at LoC in Krishna Ghati sector of Poonch district with rockets and automatic weapons.
“They attacked with rockets a forward BSF post (which lies) ahead of the fencing and opened heavy fire from automatic weapons. They violated the ceasefire,” the BSF officer said.
The Indian troops retaliated and the firing continued for some time intermittenly.
In Islamabad, the Pakistani army said it did not commit any ceasefire violation on LoC or a BAT action in the Krishna Ghati sector.
There have been several BAT attacks in the past in which Indian jawans have been beheaded or their bodies mutilated.
On October 28, 2016, militants attacked a post and killed an Indian Army soldier and mutilated his body close to the Line of Control (LoC) in the Machil sector.
In January 2013, Lance Naik Hemraj was killed and his body mutilated by a BAT. It had also beheaded Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh. Constable Rajinder Singh of the BSF battalion had suffered injuries in the attack.
In June 2008, a soldier of the 2/8 Gorkha Rifles lost his way and was captured by a Pakistani Border Action Team (BAT) in Kel sector. His body was found beheaded after a few days.
During the 1999 Kargil conflict, Captain Saurabh Kalia was tortured by his Pakistani captors who later handed over his mutilated body to India.
In February, 2000, terrorist Ilyas Kashmiri had led a raid on the Indian Army’s ‘Ashok Listening Post’ in the Nowshera sector to kill seven Indian soldiers.
Even then, Kashmiri had taken back to Pakistan the head of a 24-year-old Indian jawan, Bhausaheb Maruti Talekar of the 17 Maratha Light Infantry.
In April this year, there were seven ceasefire violations by the Pakistani troops along the LOC in Poonch and Rajouri sectors of Jammu and Kashmir.