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Updated: July 9, 2013 16:46 IST

Locked in U.N. files, 15 years of bloodletting at LoC

Praveen Swami
Comment (33)   ·   print   ·   T  T  

Complaints by Pakistan of executions, beheadings in secret cross-border raids by Indian forces

In classified protests to a United Nations watchdog that have never been disclosed till now, Pakistan has accused Indian soldiers of involvement in the torture and decapitation of at least 12 Pakistani soldiers in cross-Line of Control raids since 1998, as well as the massacre of 29 civilians.

The allegations, laid out in confidential Pakistani complaints to the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), suggest that Indian and Pakistani troops stationed on the Line of Control remain locked in a pattern of murderous violence, despite the ceasefire both armies entered into in November 2003. Earlier this month, bilateral relations were severely damaged after a series of LoC skirmishes, which culminated in the beheading and mutilation of two Indian soldiers Lance-Naik Hemraj Singh and Lance-Naik Sudhakar Singh.

The Ministry of Defence did not respond to an e-mail from The Hindu, seeking comment on the alleged decapitation of Pakistani civilians and troops reported to UNMOGIP. However, a military spokesperson said the issue had “not been raised by Pakistan in communications between the two Directors-General of Military Operations.”

The Ministry of External Affairs also said the UNMOGIP complaints had not been raised in diplomatic exchanges between the two countries.

“Ever since 9/11,” a senior Pakistan army officer told The Hindu, “we have sought to downplay these incidents, aware that a public backlash [could] push us into a situation we cannot afford on the LoC, given that much of our army is now committed to our western borders. Each of these incidents has been protested by us on both military and UNMOGIP channels.”

UNMOGIP, set up after the India-Pakistan war of 1947-1948 to monitor ceasefire violations, does not conduct criminal investigations, or assign responsibility for incidents. The reports of its ceasefire monitors are sent to the organisation’s headquarters in New York, and forwarded to the Ministry of Defence in New Delhi.

Ever since 1972, India has responded to UNMOGIP queries with a standard-form letter, saying it believes the organisation has lost its relevance following the demarcation of the LoC. Earlier this month, India argued in the United Nations that the organisation ought to be wound-up.

Massacre for massacre

The most savage cross-LoC violence Indian forces are alleged to have participated in was the killing of 22 civilians at the village of Bandala, in the Chhamb sector, on the night of March 26-27, 1998. The bodies of two civilians, according to Pakistan’s complaint to UNMOGIP, were decapitated; the eyes of several others were allegedly gouged out by the attackers. The Pakistani military claimed to have recovered an Indian-made watch from the scene of the carnage, along with a hand-written note which asked, “How does your own blood feel”?

First reported by The Hindu’s sister publication Frontline in its June 19, 1998 issue, the Bandala massacre is alleged to have been carried out by irregulars backed by Indian special forces in retaliation for the massacre of 29 Hindu villagers at Prankote, in Jammu and Kashmir, by the Lashkar-e-Taiba. The LeT attackers slit the throats of their victims, who included women and children.

No Indian investigation of the Bandala killings has ever been carried out. However, an officer serving in the Northern Command at the time said the massacre was “intended to signal that communal massacres by jihadists, who were after all trained and equipped by Pakistan’s military, were a red line that could not be crossed with impunity.”

The Lashkar, however, continued to target Hindu villagers in the Jammu region; 10 were killed at Deesa and Surankote just days later, on May 6, 1998. In 2001, 108 people were gunned down in 11 communal massacres, and 83 people were killed in five incidents in 2002 — a grim toll that only died out after the 2003 ceasefire.

Brutal retaliation

Even though the large-scale killings of civilians did not take place again, Pakistan continued to report cross-border attacks, involving mutilations, to UNMOGIP.

Six months after the Kargil war, on the night of January 21-22, 2000, seven Pakistani soldiers were alleged to have been captured in a raid on a post in the Nadala enclave, across the Neelam River. The seven soldiers, wounded in fire, were allegedly tied up and dragged across a ravine running across the LoC. The bodies were returned, according to Pakistan’s complaint, bearing signs of brutal torture.

“Pakistan chose to underplay the Nadala incident,” a senior Pakistani military officer involved with its Military Operations Directorate told The Hindu, “as General Pervez Musharraf had only recently staged his coup, and did not want a public outcry that would spark a crisis with India.”

Indian military sources told The Hindu that the raid, conducted by a special forces unit, was intended to avenge the killing of Captain Saurabh Kalia, and five soldiers — sepoys Bhanwar Lal Bagaria, Arjun Ram, Bhika Ram, Moola Ram and Naresh Singh — of the 4 Jat Regiment. The patrol had been captured on May 15, 1999, in the Kaksar sector of Kargil. Post mortem revealed that the men’s bodies had been burned with cigarette-ends and their genitals mutilated.

Less detail is available on the retaliatory cycles involved in incidents that have taken place since the ceasefire went into place along the LoC in 2003 — but Pakistan’s complaints to UNMOGIP suggest that there has been steady, but largely unreported, cross-border violence involving beheadings and mutilations.

Indian troops, Pakistan alleged, killed a JCO, or junior commissioned officer, and three soldiers in a raid on a post in the Baroh sector, near Bhimber Gali in Poonch, on September 18, 2003. The raiders, it told UNMOGIP, decapitated one soldier and carried his head off as a trophy.

Near-identical incidents have taken place on at least two occasions since 2008, when hostilities on the LoC began to escalate again. Indian troops, Pakistan’s complaints record, beheaded a soldier and carried his head across on June 19, 2008, in the Bhattal sector in Poonch. Four Pakistani soldiers, UNMOGIP was told, died in the raid.

The killings came soon after a June 5, 2008 attack on the Kranti border observation post near Salhotri village in Poonch, which claimed the life of 2-8 Gurkha Regiment soldier Jawashwar Chhame.

Finally, on August 30, 2011, Pakistan complained that three soldiers, including a JCO, were beheaded in an Indian raid on a post in the Sharda sector, across the Neelam river valley in Kel. The Hindu had first reported the incident based on testimony from Indian military sources, who said two Pakistani soldiers had been beheaded following the decapitation of two Indian soldiers near Karnah. The raid on the Indian forward position, a highly placed military source said, was carried out by Pakistani special forces, who used rafts to penetrate India’s defences along the LoC.

Fragile ceasefire

Part of the reason why the November 2003 ceasefire failed to end such savagery, government sources in both India and Pakistan told The Hindu, is the absence of an agreed mechanism to regulate conflicts along the LoC. Though both sides have occasional brigade-level flag meetings, and local post commanders exchange communications, disputes are rarely reported to higher authorities until tensions reach boiling point. Foreign offices in both countries, diplomats admitted, are almost never briefed on crises brewing on the LoC.

In October last year, highly placed military sources said, Pakistan’s Director-General of Military Operations complained about Indian construction work around Charunda, in Uri. His Indian counterpart, Lieutenant-General Vinod Bhatia, however, responded that India’s works were purely intended to prevent illegal border crossings. The unresolved dispute led to exchanges of fire, which eventually escalated into shelling and the killings of soldiers on both sides.

The November 2003 ceasefire, Indian diplomatic sources say, was based on an unwritten “agreement,” which in essence stipulated that neither side would reinforce its fortifications along the LoC — a measure first agreed to after the 1971 war. In 2006, the two sides exchanged drafts for a formal agreement. Since then, the sources said, negotiations have stalled over differing ideas on what kind of construction is permissible. “In essence,” a senior government official said, “we accept that there should be no new construction, but want to be allowed to expand counter-infiltration measures and expand existing infrastructure.”

India insists that it needs to expand counter-infiltration infrastructure because of escalating operations by jihadist groups across the LoC. Pakistan argues that India’s own figures show a sharp decline in operations by jihadists in Jammu and Kashmir. Last year, according to the Indian government, 72 terrorists, 24 civilians and 15 security personnel, including police, were killed in terrorist violence in the State — lower, in total, than the 521 murders recorded in Delhi alone. In 2011, the figures were, respectively, 100, 40 and 33; in 2010, 232, 164 and 69.

“You can’t say that you need more border defences to fight off jihadists when you yourself say there is less and less jihadist violence,” a Pakistani military official said. “The only reason there are less jihadists,” an Indian military officer responded, “is because we’ve enhanced our defences.”

Indian and Pakistani diplomats last met on December 27 to discuss the draft agreement, but could make no headway.

The article has been corrected for a factual error.

If it wasn't for Pakistan continously trying to send terrorists into India, and also the regular firing from them, then there would be peace on the border. But it is obvious that Pakistan does not seek peace. It is not a peaceful country as is seen by the chaos erupting within its own borders. India needs to take any action necessary to protect itself.

from:  Vipul Dave
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 16:10 IST

Terrorism in Asia started when Chanakya tried to poison Chandragupta Maurya for the throne. It continued when the last Mauryan king was killed by Shunga brahmin. Kashmir was Las Vegas for Kashmir pandit Brahmins, who prevented outsiders from entering Kashmir for centuries.

from:  Mohan
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 15:54 IST

First thing about this news is that, the whole news is about allegations
not investigated crimes. Second they were all retaliatory measures, but
have been depicted as savagely done. Implications - Dawn reporting this
news's only one side without even mentioning the retaliation part.

Good work indeed, but incomplete work; that highlight is incomplete
without loss on both sides, even if its about allegations.

from:  Viswas
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 15:10 IST

Appreciate the attempt to record the grime on our end as well. Mr.Praveen Swami, Sir, 'facts', public disclosure of which, should be an article's topmost agenda, is achieved. Obviously, a seasoned reporter of your stature won't be cowed down by the negative tenor of some of the comments above, still I'd like to once again congratulate you to have made the sincere effort to bring forth yourself to make a sincere addition to the annals of history. No matter how much one may berate the enemy, the article does reinforce the accepted, and well documented, historically repetitive sad truth that in the end, it's the humane trait of innocence on both sides, that is lost, always.

from:  Ravi Sashank
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 14:20 IST

A revealing article by Praveen Swami- It clearly describes in detail
what many of us long suspected. We always knew a tough and well
trained armed forces like Indian army could not have been acting like
a victim under aggressive Pakistani forces. It is only but natural
that Indian army will seek retribution for the jawans it lost. Some
of the readers may be shocked to learn about such acts by our Army and
other will be delighted for opposite reasons. But the fact is, these
soldiers- young boys signed up to protect our nation- does not deserve
to die in such a horrible manner. They don't deserve to be beheaded or
tortured. They are professional soldiers, not scapegoats! it is our
government's (and defence ministry's) job to ensure that no jawan is
killed in such a manner. But they failed in preventing this killings
via diplomats. There should be immediate checks and balances put in
place to prevent such barbarities in future instead of waging a war
via TV studios!

from:  Prasanth Nambiar
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 13:50 IST

What is wrong in it ,LOC not in cooking or kaun banega show .It is war
and need to be responsive .I am glad Indian Army doing some retaliatory
measures and repaying in the same coin.It is unfortunate common people
are dying,let us put a rule those who want contest elections should
compulsorily serve in the border for a Year (real LOC).We dont have
faith in any other proofs. Similarly those who want to play Hero roles
in movie should serve in the LOC for six months,then see all this
animosity will go.

from:  sravan srinivas
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 13:46 IST

Great article Praveen Swami. An unbiased account of allegations made
against Indian Army.

Allegations made to UN observer group can be understood in the light
that Pakistan has always been trying to internationalize the issue.

But just to remind the readers, these are just accusations made by
Pakistan and Mr. Swami is not trying to sensationalize the issue. This
is real journalism- unbiased truth.

Hope peace prevails in our sub-continent.

from:  Gaurav
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 13:45 IST

The article shows a definite tilt towards painting the Indian army in a negative light. The incidents by the Indian army in retaliation are described in much more detail than the pakistan forays which provoked the retaliation. Even the graphic on the top left of the article is really really biased. PLEASE DO NOT PULL DOWN THE EFFORTS OF PEOPLE/INSTITUTIONS that are engaged in protecting the Nation. I am all for a balanced portrayal of the situation but definitely not such articles by Pravin Swami where we overbalance and favour one side in an effort to appear balanced.

from:  Harish Ramachandran
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 12:46 IST

The article itself says that India does not take UNMOGIP seriously
since 1972 and does not respond to it. And Pakistan has not
communicated anything as mentioned in the article to the director
general meetings between India-Pakistan.
Having established these facts, the article wants us to believe that
Pakistan is raising their complain in UNMOGIP rather than raising it
through an official channel ? For the sake of 'not escalating' the LOC
tensions ?
Even Pakistani army will be amused that they are mentioned as such
large-hearted peace keepers.

from:  Vivek
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 12:19 IST

Surely India was retaliating to Pakistani attacks -- therefore Pakistanis don't need to get excited, after all their side did nothing less. And on the Indian side, the senseless war-mongers siting in TV studios must understand that our Army is quite capable of dealing with any brutality by opposite side and the subcontinent does not need their senseless shouting for a better and peaceful future. Articles like these hopefully will pave a way for a peaceful subcontinent -- it is extremely important that the brutalities committed by any side need to be ruthlessly exposed so that Truth can prevail and Peace be achieved. Even one of the biggest breakthroughs in 26/11 case was achieved when a Pakistani media outlet had bravely exposed the fact that Kasab was infact a Pakistani national.

from:  Yashwanth P
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 11:59 IST

Good to see an article depicting the other side of the coin, For me personally the idea of looking at Indian army as Misihah and Pakistani army as Satanic is a propaganda. There are fractions in both army that indulge in these kind of activities, and when tensions and emotions run high this is what is meant to happen. But leaving that issue apart what it also says us is that these issues should not affect the peace talk that is going on between the neighbours, and both parties have to make an effort not to blow out these issues. I mean including the media houses and politicians. Someone was talking about Sushma Ji as our next PM candicate , and her idea of having 10 pakistani heads for
an Indian head was a great punch dialogue which should give her a chance in film industry but not as a PM candidate.

from:  Dinoop Ravindran Menon
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 11:55 IST

This Article is a typical example for why I admire but hate "The Hindu".
Admire because, "The Hindu" reports some real relevant things, which no one else does.
Hate because, If one goes by just highlights, it shows Indian Army in a very bad light. But when one goes through full Article, both Indian & Pakistan Armies are at equal fault, with slightly more blame on Pak side.
In all this, the main point "the absence of an agreed mechanism to regulate conflicts along the LoC" gets hidden somewhere inside.
I would have really loved, if the tenor of highlights is more neutral & the point "the absence of an agreed mechanism to regulate conflicts along the LoC" was more stressed in the highlights, because the priority should be to get the issues resolved but not to sensationalise them.
I hope that "The Hindu" takes this feedback poistively and makes some constructive changes.

from:  surya
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 11:01 IST

I am not surprised at all. Lets get this straight- we are a violent race. The 2 epics of
Hindus - Ramayana and Mahabharata/Gita are War Doctrines. In fact the
Mahabharata/Gita justifies killings of relatives and the use of deceit in war. We take oath in a court of law on the Gita.
Those who say we as Hindus are non-violent are fundamentally flawed in their argument as I have just brought out above. The fact is we believe in retributive justice as a race which is evident in the Ramayana and Mahabharata/Gita.
The British over the past 200-300 years of their rule introduced us to a "Western"notion of "Civilized" behavior which was alien to us.

from:  Priya
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 10:57 IST

It is clear that Pakistan is up to old tricks . How come these were
not reported earlier??? Trying now to say that there were reasons for
not reporting are hollow claims. Pakistan would have never allowed to
let pass such an opportunity to internationalise such incidents
particularly when the UNMOGIP was active. And I do not see why we
have to believe all this concoctions now??? Why should we even give
such unwarranted publicity to such unsubstantiated claims if they were
not made at the time of occurence(if they happened at all).

Secondly, if it was Pakistan special forces that carried out such
attacks on villagers or our Jawans and the Indian Army retaliated and
paid in the same coin which prevented attacks on civilians, it is a
case of a job well done by the Indian Army. It again proves that this
is the only language that they understand.
In the final analysis, the report and the unwanted coverage needs to be dismissed as another case of trying to show India in bad light.

from:  seshadri
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 10:22 IST

What is the point of this article? Is the 'The Hindu' trying to legitatmize Pakistani allegations. Also, the quote of a Officer (whose is not named) does lend credance to any of these accusations.
It is well known that GoI does NOT recognize the UN team after the Shimla Agreement and its framework.
'The Hindu' is doing a disservice to India ....by publishing alleged these acts. I wonder where this paper is going....

from:  Srinivas
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 10:15 IST

Frankly I am not too worried if these allegations are true. What Pakistani army did to Capt. Saurav Kalia and his men are beyond all norms of warfare, and Indian forces needed to send a signal and message of deterrence to the other side. Without a fitting response the enemy construes it as a sign of weakness and they are bound to commit more such acts of brutality. While we could not stop all brutalities I am sure Pakistani officers may think twice before ordering the next brutal acts of torture on Indian soldiers lest they themselves be subjected to the same treatment down the line.

from:  Suvojit Dutta
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 10:13 IST

This is a perfect story on the front page "celebrating" the Martyr' day. Though Gandhi is not mentioned in this article, keeping him in the backdrop and reading this one is definitely going to give goosebumps. Writing much more in regards to specificity would be rather daring. The father should be remembered the most while dealing with the estranged brother.

from:  Pabitra Martha
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 10:12 IST

What is the point in discussing these stats now ? It would have been
better if some solutions are suggested for the same.

from:  sunny
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 09:51 IST

I think such an important revelation should have been published along with a response from the Indian Army or the Defence ministry.Pakistan's not raising this issue till now in public may in fact be because these incidents never happened.

from:  P Krishna Reddy
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 09:38 IST

It's great that "The Hindu" is still unbiased in reporting except when it comes to Left countries.
India should be transparent in its policies whether its Defense or External affairs.Indian Army should try and work according to UN guidelines however toothless that is.

from:  Aditya
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 09:33 IST

The Hindu lives up to its image of being impartial,brave in carrying out
its journalistic pursuits.Hope people of India realize that no violent
incident occurs without provocation from both sides.india which claims
to be democratic country should take such rogues who behead in Taliban
style torture to task and establish cordial relations with paksitan

from:  yadava reddy
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 09:19 IST

If it is established that Indian Soldiers were involved in beheadings of
Pak soldiers, it is really sad and barbaric on our side.

from:  Punith
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 08:53 IST

Thank you, Praveen Swami, fo this article. Coverage like this helps to shine some light on a
subject where truth is very hard to get at. It is horrible that soldiers, generally recruited from members of disadvantaged groups in each country, should have to die in such brutal ways because political and military leaders have failed to resolve this long standing issue. One can only hope that a day will come when people find the resolve to deal with this issue for once
and all so that our respective countries and leaders can spend their energies on the very real
needs of our people.

from:  Hoshiar Singh
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 08:49 IST

We started to hear news now and then. Let the article like these be reminder to both the countries not to look into the issue as mundane and should be handled sensibly. We need intellectuals not jingoists, democrats not fanatics, humanitarians not bigots. Indian subcontinent (incl all neighbouring countries) once remained instrumental in world civilization in ancient times. We are in the so called modern world, We should be example to this world in suppressing violence together.
Both sides must stop violence. Eradicate terrorism together. This world needs modern civilization not revolution. Educate people of compassion & tolerance rather than nurturing hate in the minds. Leaders of today were children when the hatefulness diffused. Children
of today need not to hear the cycle of violence anymore.

from:  Vignesh
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 08:45 IST

This article is an eye opener. However, it means that Indians should be
with our jawans, not our diplomats. Until Pak stops supporting
insurgency, we should treat Pak as an enemy, not as a friend. One set of
rules of engagement for our soldiers and another for the civil society
is unacceptable.

from:  Babu
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 08:18 IST

If these reports are true, I am truly ashamed that the Indian army has
committed such brutally violent acts. If we are to have any moral
authority in condemning the Pakistan army and ISI support for jihadi
groups, we must desist from such acts. I am all for defending our
borders and preventing border incursions and crossings but "sending a
message" is very dangerous as there is no red line. I hope the
leaders, both military and civil have the courage to say that this
must stop and come up with diplomatic ways of defending our nation. If
there is an open war and we have to fight, let us fight with dignity.
Getting down to the level of the terrorists and committing atrocities
against civilians and brutalities against soldiers, after they are
captured are acts of cowardice and helplessness and does not bode well
for the soul of our nation.

from:  Easwar
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 07:30 IST

Hmmm.... The Hindu is increasingly sounding like a propaganda machine for Pakistan army. One can appreciate balanced journalism, but this sort of journalism is really lop-sided (in favour of the enemy)! One hardly reads criticism in The Hindu of Pakistani armed forces being in bed with the jihadi terrorist groups or their continued fetish with proxy wars against India or wanting to bleed India by a thousand cuts etc. Wow, The Hindu, what patriotism!

from:  M Kumar
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 07:18 IST

After the reading of article, it is obvious that every aggresive move from Indian side is a retaliation to Pakistan's agression. So what is the big issue here?. Hindu is over dramatising and restricting the Indian Army's retailiation against attrocities instigated by Pakistanis. They are responsible when they instigated this violenc,why cry through Praveen Swami now?

from:  Yugandhar
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 06:43 IST

Such reports indicate there are more than what meets the eye.Also in the interest of peace, so that unscrupulous elements like jehadists in Pakistan and pseuso patriots in India are not able to take advantage of such scenario,it is important to disband OFFICIAL SECRETS ACT from defence establishments. The defence establishments are breeding ground of corruption nepotism and waste of public money.

from:  atis
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 06:33 IST

Hatred has to go, we cannot survive if both countries continue on this path. Yes, if war happens, there is no option but to fight, but to continue these kind of horrendous activities in peacetime, shame on both sides! Gandhiji would have turned his head away in despair.

from:  Kumar
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 05:56 IST

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

from:  Jaydeep
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 05:32 IST

If these allegations are true, then why Pakistan has been tightlipped
for the last 15 years.... it could have raised this issue in the wake
of recent skirmish on LoC..one cannot believe Pakistan saying “we
have sought to downplay these incidents, aware that a public backlash
[could] push us into a situation we cannot afford on the LoC, given
that much of our army is now committed to our western borders. Each of
these incidents has been protested by us on both military and UNMOGIP
channels,” keeping their track record of sponsoring terrorism and
proxy war in mind. However, i must say these are shocking
revelations...

from:  Yogesh Pandey
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 04:53 IST

This is an eye-opening piece and a great example of how journalism
should be conducted - free from jingoism, laden with truth.
Congratulations Mr. Praveen Swami and the Hindu.

from:  Danish
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 04:02 IST
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