An angry Indian Army threatened “retribution” after suspected Pakistani troops killed three soldiers and savagely mutilated one of the bodies on Tuesday close to the border in Jammu and Kashmir.
The army’s Northern Command confirmed that the incident happened during a gunfight in the Machhil sector along the Line of Control (LoC) — the de facto border — in Kupwara district.
“Body of one soldier mutilated, retribution will be heavy for this cowardly act,” the army tweeted.
India lodged a strong protest with Pakistan against the killing and mutilation when the foreign office in Islamabad summoned deputy high commissioner JP Singh to condemn “unprovoked ceasefire violations”.
He told director general (South Asia and Saarc) Mohammad Faisal that Pakistani troops were deliberately targeting civilian areas, resulting in heavy casualties.
The slain soldiers were 25-year-old Prabhu Singh of Rajasthan, whose body was found mutilated, and two Uttar Pradesh natives — 31-year-old K Kushwah and Shashank K Singh, 25.
This is the second mutilation in cross-border skirmishes after Pakistan-based militants ambushed an army base in Kashmir’s Uri and killed 19 soldiers in September.
Militants crossed the LoC and mutilated the body of 30-year-old sepoy Mandeep Singh after killing him in the Macchil sector on October 28, triggering outrage across the nation.
Sources said Pakistani soldiers of the Border Action Team, who attacked several Indian posts on Tuesday, beheaded the slain soldier before sneaking back into Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
There was no immediate comment from Pakistan, which last week accused India of killing seven of its soldiers in cross-border fire in Kashmir.
Around 17 Indian soldiers, including paramilitary personnel, have been killed in cross-border firing since India carried out “surgical strikes” on militant hideouts across the border soon after the Uri attack.
Pakistani troops have been relentlessly pounding frontier villages and military outposts across the border with machine guns and mortar shells. Many places in the Machhil sector came under heavy shelling from 3.30pm on Tuesday, soon after the three soldiers were killed.
Army vice-chief Lt Gen Bipin Rawat briefed defence minister Manohar Parrikar about the situation, while the opposition Congress accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of gloating over the “surgical strikes”, instead of solving the border tension.
“Three more jawans killed and body mutilated twice in the last few days. Is the chest-thumping, rhetoric-driven PM concerned at all?” asked Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala.
Experts say such savage acts of disfiguring a slain soldier’s corpse is not rare along the LoC, where Indian soldiers have been fighting Pakistan-backed militants since the outbreak of militancy in Kashmir in the 1990s.
During the Kargil war in 1999, an army Captain and five sepoys of 4 Jat Regiment were captured by Pakistani troops and brutally tortured. Their ears were pierced with hot iron rods, eyes punctured and genitals cut off. The autopsy revealed their limbs, nose and lips were chopped off, teeth broken and skull fractured.
On January 8, 2013, Pakistani soldiers entered Indian territory and killed two soldiers — lance naiks Hemraj and Sudhakar Singh. Officials said their bodies were mutilated, and Hemraj was decapitated.