Efforts to seek justice for Army Captain Saurabh Kalia and five soldiers took a new turn recently with a petition being filed with the United Nation Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
Captain Kalia was a lieutenant in the 4 Jat Regiment and was deputed for patrolling duty in the Kaksar area along with Arjun Ram, Bhanwar Lal Bagaria, Bhika Ram, Moola Ram and Naresh Singh. On May 15, 1999 the patrol was captured by alleged Pakistan Army regulars and tortured. Their mutilated bodies were handed over to the Indian authorities after 20 days.
The petition, which was filed by Captain Kalia’s father Narinder Kumar Kalia and MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar, was submitted to Juan E. Mendez, Special Rapporteur on Torture, Office of High Commissioner of Human Rights, UN Office Geneva on December 7, said a release from Mr. Chandrasekhar’s office.
The petitioners requested the UNHRC to open an investigation immediately, and take appropriate steps to urge the Government of Pakistan to conduct an enquiry into the matter and identify those responsible for the torture and death of Captain Kalia and his men.
The release said the decision to approach the UN was taken after a series of failed attempts to get the Indian authorities to act. Mr. Chandrasekhar had first raised the issue in Parliament, then followed it up with a letter on August 23, 2012 to the then Minister of External Affairs S.M. Krishna.
Mr. Chandrasekhar’s release said Mr. Krishna was urged to move the UNHRC and pressure the international body into declaring the incident a war crime. The petition to Mr. Krishna also sought to pressure the Indian authorities into taking up the matter with the International Court of Justice.
Mr. Krishna purportedly responded saying, “The matter has been raised in the past with Pakistani authorities and in the appropriate international fora. It is indeed unfortunate that our efforts have not borne fruit. This does not, in any way, imply that we are giving up our efforts to ensure that the guilty are brought to justice.”
Dr. Kalia wrote a letter to the Chief of the Indian Army and addressed a letter to the Prime Minister of Pakistan. He addressed a facsimile communication to the President of India and even filed a writ before the Supreme Court of India.