The mutilation of a dead soldier by militants along the Line of Control sparked outrage on Saturday, with politicians terming the act atrocious and depraved.
Indian soldier Mandeep Singh’s native village in Haryana’s Kurukshetra went into mourning. The 30-year-old soldier’s family members demanded that Pakistan be taught a lesson for harbouring terrorists, and former army officers expressed sadness over the incident.
Militants crossed the LoC, the de facto border between India and Pakistan, on Friday night and killed the soldier before mutilating his body in Macchil sector in Kashmir’s Kupwara district. They were believed to have been aided by cover fire from the Pakistan Army.
Sources said the militants, who attacked 12 Indian posts, beheaded the soldier. In a brief statement, the army said an “appropriate response” will be given.
With ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops sparking panic in border villages, home minister Rajnath Singh assured the nation that security forces were giving “befitting reply” to firing from across the border.
“We will not bow down before anyone,” he told reporters in New Delhi.
Minister of state (MoS) Jitendra Singh said nothing “can be more atrocious than this”.
“The human rights of soldiers should enjoy precedence over the human rights of anybody else. The longer Pakistan continues to be in denial mode, the more it harms itself,” he said.
“These are acts of cowardice and these are happening at the time of desperation on the part of the Pakistan Army as well as Islamabad. Indian forces are capable of standing up to this challenge.”
Congress’s Manish Tewari said the mutilation was an “absolutely depraved behaviour” that “violates you as a human being”.
“There are certain rules of engagement and conduct even in a conflict situation. Pakistan is expected to respect the rules of engagement,” he said.
Grief engulfs Mandeep’s village
Women flocked to the dead soldier’s house in Aantehri village to console his widow, Prerna, who is a head constable with the Haryana police. The couple married two years ago.
“Pakistan should be taught a lesson once and for all so that no other family of a soldier has to go through such pain,” Prerna said, breaking down several times while speaking.
“He was supposed to visit home again on Diwali but his leave was cancelled in view of the tension on the border at Macchil sector.”
Mandeep’s father said the Indian Army should give a befitting reply to Pakistan.
“It was his duty, he has done it. He sacrificed his life. We should give a befitting reply to Pakistan,” he said, adding that he got the news of his son’s death when army personnel visited the family home at 1 am.
Kurukshetra deputy commissioner Sumedha Kataria also visited the soldier’s home and offered her condolences.
Mandeep’s neighbours described him as a “go-getter” who always had a smile on his face.
Subhash, the husband of the village chief, said Mandeep always offered help to anyone in need who approached him.