New Delhi August 6;The Government on Tuesday said the killing of five Indian soldiers on the Line of Control was carried out by “terrorists along with persons dressed in Pakistan Army uniform”, triggering strong reactions from political parties which said it amounted to giving “escape route” to Pakistan.
Members cutting across party lines expressed anger in Parliament over this morning’s incident, prompting Defence Minister A.K. Antony to assert that India will take “necessary steps” to uphold the sanctity of the LoC and give a response which will be based on “signals” and “actions” by Pakistan.
Most of the political parties, including BJP, Left, SP, JD(U), Shiv Sena and BSP in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha demanded a “befitting reply” to Pakistan over the provocative act in Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir.
There were also demands that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should not meet his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif in New York next month on the sidelines of U.N. General Assembly as is planned.
Making suo motu statements in both the Houses, Mr. Antony said the attack was carried out on the Indian side of the LoC.
An Indian Army patrol, comprising one Non-Commissioned Officer and five other ranks, was “ambushed on our side” of the LoC in Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir, he said.
“The ambush was carried out by approximately 20 heavily-armed terrorists along with persons dressed in Pakistan army uniform,” he said.
“In the ensuing firefight, five Indian soldiers were martyred and one soldier was injured,” he said.
Strongly condemning the “unprovoked incident”, Mr. Antony said, “I assure the House that our Army is fully ready to take all necessary steps to uphold the sanctity of LoC.”
He said the “morale of armed forces is very high” and they are capable of handling the situation.
His remarks about involvement of terrorists in the attack triggered angry reactions by political parties, which said it amounted to giving an “escape route” to Pakistan which already claims that its army is not responsible.
However, Mr. Antony stuck to his version, saying “my statement is based on confirmed reports received till the time I made the statement…At this stage we don’t want to jump to any conclusion.”
Killing of soldiers a blatant act of deceit: Sonia
Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday said India would not be cowed down by the “deceitful” killing of five of its soldiers by Pakistan along the LoC and asked the government to take “appropriate” measures.
Expressing deep grief and shock over the incident in Jammu & Kashmir, she said that the entire Congress party as indeed the entire country stands by the families of the martyred soldiers.
Ms. Gandhi said the Indian nation could “not be cowed down” by such “blatant acts of deceit” and urged the government to take appropriate steps.