Pakistan’s Border Action Team is suspected to have decapitated a porter, who was among two civilians killed along the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch district on Friday, and taken away the head, officials said in Jammu.
This is the first time that any civilian has been beheaded by the BAT, which comprises Pakistani army regulars and terrorists, though similar incidents involving security personnel have taken place in the past, they said.
The body of Mohammad Aslam (28) was badly mutilated and his head was missing, a senior police officer said.
Asked about the killings by Pakistan, Army Chief Gen M M Naravane said on Saturday that professional armies never resort to “barbaric” acts and they “will deal appropriately with such situations in a military manner”.
A defence spokesman had earlier said that Aslam and Altaf Hussain (23), both residents of Kassalian village of Gulpur sector, were killed and three others injured after being hit by a mortar shell when Pakistani Army targeted a group of Army porters who were carrying logistics for the troops in a forward area close the LoC on Friday.
However, officials said on Saturday that the head of one of the porters was missing and is believed to have been taken away by the BAT.
“The body of Aslam was headless when handed over to police for completion of legal formalities. The bodies of both the porters were handed over to their families and their last rites were conducted in their village on Friday evening,” the police officer said on condition of anonymity.
He said the injured porters — Mohamamd Saleem (24), Mohammad Showkat (28) and Nawaz Ahmad (35) — are undergoing treatment in the hospital and their condition is stated to be “stable”.
“We will deal appropriately with such situations in a military manner,” Gen Naravane said when asked about the incident at a press conference in Delhi ahead of the Army Day.
He said the Indian Army conducts itself in the most professional and ethical manner including on the LoC. “Professional armies never resort to barbaric acts,” he said.
The opposition Congress strongly condemned the killings and questioned why Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh were “silent” on the “barbarism” by Pakistan.
“Is the news of martyrdom run taking into account the government in power?” Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said.
“When will Pakistan’s cowardly acts be given a befitting reply? 10 heads for 1 when? Surjewala said on Twitter.
Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) chief spokesperson Ravinder Sharma hit out at Pakistan for the “continued misadventure and mischief” and demanded a befitting response.
“When the UPA was in power, two such inhuman acts (beheading of jawans) by Pakistan were questioned by BJP and Narendra Modi termed it a weak government. “Several such shameful mischiefs were done by Pakistan and Modi government should explain why it failed to take effective action to check Pakistan?” Sharma said in a statement here.
He said Pakistan-occupied Kashmir is legally and constitutionally an integral part of India but under illegal occupation of Pakistan for which there is unanimous resolution of Parliament under the then Congress government.
“Now it is the time for the present government to decide the future course of action to take back our territory,” he said.
In 2019, the highest number of ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops were recorded in the last 16 years, virtually making the 2003 India-Pakistan border truce “redundant”, according to officials.