Parents of Kargil martyr Capt Saurabh Kalia on Monday thanked the Centre for indicating that it could approach the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against his brutal torture by the Pakistan army, but said they would believe its assurances only if these are backed by concrete action.
“External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj has said but not done anything. After 16 years, a government says that we cannot go to the international court. Today she is saying that we can. So, many years have passed now. It’s time for them to take action. If you want to do something then do it,” Captain Kalia’s mother, Vijaya said.
Reacting to Sushma’s statement, the martyr’s father NK Kalia, 66, a retired Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) scientist, said: “I welcome the minister’s initiative. But there should be some concrete outcome this time. Lots of promises have been made in the past, but they have never been fulfilled.”
Reversing its earlier stand, the Centre on Monday said it could approach the ICJ against the brutal torture of the Kargil war hero by the neighbouring country in view of the “exceptional circumstances” of the case.
In Udaipur, Swaraj said: “It has been decided that the way Captain Kalia was tortured created exceptional circumstances and therefore, the government will change its affidavit in the Supreme Court and ask whether under legal provisions they could move the ICJ. If the court gives a nod, then we will take the issue to the ICJ.”
The parents said the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had assured them of all possible action against the alleged atrocity, but nothing was done.
“Vajpayee had promised us that this issue would be raised with Pakistan and also on the international level. But in the past 16 years, no government has taken any concrete step. This is not only for our son or us, but for the entire army which is doing everything for the nation,” said the martyr’s father.
Kalia said he was pinning hope on the Supreme Court now and would continue to raise the issue till his last breath regardless of the outcome of his efforts.
Kalia had moved the Supreme Court in 2012 seeking a direction to the ministry of external affairs (MEA) to approach the ICJ for action against the Pakistani armymen who killed his son in violation of the Geneva Convention on treatment of war prisoners.
Earlier, the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had told the Supreme Court in February 2014 that it couldn’t move the ICJ as Pakistan might not permit it and no country can be so compelled to.
The Manmohan Singh government shockingly went to the extent of saying that the effect on relations with “our neighbour country” has to be kept in mind and that “moving the ICJ is not a legally enforceable right”.
The apex court has now asked the Modi government to make its stand clear through an affidavit by August 25, the next date of hearing.
Captain Kalia and five other soldiers were captured alive on May 15, 1999, by Pakistani troops when they had gone out for a patrol duty in the Kaskar area of Kargil. They were kept in captivity where they were tortured and their bodies were mutilated, before they were killed.
Captain Kalia’s eardrums were punctured with hot rods, his eyes were punctured and his limbs and genitals had been cut off. Most of his teeth and bones had also been broken. The father of the slain soldier had moved the Supreme Court in 2012, demanding an international probe.