ARMY TALKS TOUGH

Gen Singh Threatens Aggressive Retaliation; Says LeT Militants Could Be Behind Killing Of Soldiers

ANIL ANAND

New Delhi, Jan 14: Terming as “unpardonable” the beheading of a soldier allegedly by Pakistan on the Line of Control (LoC), Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh Monday warned that India’s military will retaliate aggressively in case of any further provocation.
Talking tough, Gen Singh said the killing of two Indian soldiers on the LoC in Mendhar area of Jammu and Kashmir on January 6 was a “pre-planned and pre-meditated action by Pakistani troops” and India reserves the right to retaliate at “time and place of its choice”.
Addressing a press conference here on the eve of Army Day, Gen Singh said India’s response to Pakistani firing at its posts in LoC in J&K is measured and perfect.
He said the ceasefire, in place since November 2003, has been holding except for “some aberrations” for which he squarely blamed Pakistan.
“Beheading (of Lance Naik Hemraj) is unacceptable and unpardonable,” the Army Chief said about the incident in which Pakistan soldiers allegedly crossed into the Indian territory to attack Indian army patrol party.
“It (the attack) was stage-managed and pre-planned (by Pakistan). They (Pakistan) have planted lies to justify what they have done,” he said.
He said the attack was carried out by Pakistan army personnel but did not rule out the possibility of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militants being associated with it.
Gen Singh said while the issue is being taken up with Pakistan at government and military levels, directions have been given to Army commanders to respond immediately if provoked.
“India reserves its right to retaliate at the time and place of its choice. We won’t remain passive when attacked,” he said, adding he expected “commanders to be aggressive and offensive.”
“I do not want my commanders to be timid. Our response to Pakistani firing at its posts in LoC in Jammu and Kashmir is measured and perfect,” he observed.
Hitting out that the Pakistan army, Gen Singh said beheading is against all rules of engagement.
At the same time, he said there were some “tactical errors” on part of the local unit which will be looked into later as an inquiry at the moment will affect the morale of the forces.
“Our teams should be balanced to take on the onslaught of the enemy,” the Army Chief said.
Putting the onus of maintaining the ceasefire on Pakistan, the Army Chief said India will uphold it as long as the “adversary” does.
He applauded the Indian Army Commanders at the LoC, saying they did a “great job”.
Gen Singh discounted the possibility of the skirmish leading to a full-fledged war and was dismissive of Pakistan’s nuclear blackmail, saying it had no relation to the local conflict.
“Indicators do not show upping the ante,” he said.
On any response to the Pakistani action, he said it has to be the decision of the government.
Noting that the morale of the force along the LoC was “high”, Singh said he would go there at an “opportune time”.
The Army Chief said he shared the grief of slain soldier Hemraj Singh’s widow. “I am sorry (for all her pains and sorrows). She is a part of the army family. She will be provided with all the entitlements,” he said.
Regretting the beheading incident, he said the Indian Army would have never indulged in such type of acts.
“We give respect to enemy bodies. This is our value and you have seen this during Kargil war,” he said.
On the need to evacuate the villages located on the LoC due to prevailing tension, the Army Chief said that such decisions have to be taken at local levels. The state administration has to take a call if the need arises, he said.
In reply to a question, he admitted that there have been other incidents of Indian soldiers being beheaded by Pakistani troops. He admitted that there have been incidents in 2011 when two soldiers from the Rajput Regiment were reportedly beheaded in Kupwara district of Jammu and Kashmir. He denied any attempt to hush up these incidents, saying details had been shared by the Army with the Defence Ministry.
Denying Pakistani allegations that the tension along the LoC was triggered by Indian Army’s aggression on January 6, General Singh said that “Pakistan first tried to spread lies and then tried to justify the beheading.”
General Singh denied that any concrete structure was built by the Indian Army in the area near Churunda village where Pakistani forces dominated with small arms and mortar fire. “In upkeep of our defenses, only trenches and an observation post were made,” he said adding that the route through Churunda village was the shortest one to get to Uri and useful for encouraging infiltration.
To questions about retrieving Hemraj’s head from Pakistan, he said the issue will be taken up strongly at diplomatic level as also military level, including the Brigadier-level Flag meeting today.
“Let us see if the Pakistan army heeds to our protests and complies with it. We will have to pressurize them to give the head back.” With inputs from PTI

Lastupdate on : Mon, 14 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 14 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 15 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST




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