Government amends statement on Poonch killings, warns Pak

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AntonyNew Delhi,  August 8, 2013: The government on Thursday blamed the Pakistan Army for the killing of five Indian soldiers and said the incident would have consequences on India’s behaviour on the Line of Control and ties with Pakistan.

Reading out an amended statement in Parliament after two days of disruption with the Opposition accusing the government of exonerating Pakistan of the brutal killings by saying the incident was carried out by terrorists in Pakistan Army uniform, Defence Minister A.K.Antony said that India’s restraint should not be taken for granted nor should the capacity of its armed forces and government’s resolve to uphold the sanctity of the LoC be doubted.

Making a statement in both Houses of Parliament, Mr Antony sought to clarify that his earlier contention about the involvement of “terrorists along with persons dressed in Pakistan Army uniform” was based on information available at that time.

“Since then the Chief of Army Staff has visited the area and gone into the details of the matter,” he said.

“It is now clear that specialist troops of the Pakistan Army were involved in the attack when a group from Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) side crossed the LoC and killed our brave jawans,” he said.

“We all know that nothing happens from Pakistan side of LoC without support, assistance, facilitation and often, direct involvement of Pakistan Army,” Mr Antony said.

In the Lok Sabha, Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj said her party was happy that the Defence Minister had “accepted his mistake” and rectified it.

The Defence Minister said that the “brutal and unprovoked’’ attack on Indian side of the LoC in Poonch had “outraged us all’’ and naturally the naturally, this incident will have consequences on our behaviour on the LoC and for our relations with Pakistan.”

Mr Antony said: “Our restraint should not be taken for granted; nor should the capacity of our armed forces and resolve of the government to uphold the sanctity of LoC ever be doubted.”

“Those in Pakistan who are responsible for this tragedy and the brutal killing of two soldiers earlier this year should not go unpunished,” he said.

“Pakistan should also show determined action to dismantle terrorists networks, organisations and infrastructure and show tangible movement on bringing those responsible for the Mumbai terrorist attack in November 2008 to justice quickly,” he said.

In her remarks after the Defence Minister read out the statement, Ms Swaraj suggested that those who had alleged BJP was playing politics over the killing of five Indian soldiers were wrong and that they should know that the party was trying to get corrected the Defence Minister’s statement made on Tuesday. The Congress had accused the BJP of doing politics over the killings.

In the Rajya Sabha, Mr Antony could not complete the statement due to uproar caused by opposition over naming of 22 of its members for “gross disorderly conduct”.

“The Opposition supports your statement and we have been successful in saying in one voice that Pakistan cannot resort to such acts,” Ms Swaraj said, telling the government that it should ensure that such a mistake is not repeated.

Ms Swaraj hinted that the issue was over for BJP, NDA ally Shiv Sena expressed dissatisfaction with Mr Antony’s statement and wanted clarifications which were disallowed by the Speaker Meira Kumar resulting in the adjournment.

When the Lok Sabha re-assembled after lunch, Prabhunath Singh, who recently returned to Lok Sabha as a Rashtriya Janata Dal member, said four of the soldiers killed were from Bihar and wanted to have his say. At one point he even trooped into the Well to draw the attention of the Speaker.

Prabhunath Singh demanded that the House pass a resolution condemning the killing of Indian jawans. “What action is India proposing to take? There should be a resolution condemning the incident,” he said.

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