Monday, February 27, 2012

Militants behead two jawans in J&K - Indian Press supresses story

India Today
Ajmer Singh  New Delhi, August 6, 2011

In a barbaric incident, which has shocked army officials, Pakistan-trained militants beheaded two soldiers and dumped their bodies during an encounter to check infiltration attempt near the Line of Control (LoC) in Kupwara district of Kashmir late last month.

It is suspected that the militants killed the jawans from the 20 Kumaon regiment, beheaded the duo and reportedly retained their heads as war trophies.

But, the army officials are not willing to accept the tragic story, as it might have an impact on the morale of the armed forces waging anti- terror operations in J& K. A jawan of 19 Rajput, who was part of the patrol party, also died in the cross- fire.

A senior Army official, requesting anonymity, disclosed that the two men of Kumaon regiment were killed and their heads were chopped off. Their bodies were also mutilated, he said.

The incident happened around Pak foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar's visit to the country, in the last week of July, disclosed the officer.

The martyred soldiers were identified as Havildar Jaipal Singh Adhikari and Lance Naik Devender Singh.

The details of the third jawan, from 19 Rajput, couldn't be ascertained.

The soldiers were cremated on Wednesday at their native places in Pithoragarh and Haldwani districts of Uttrakhand.

A state police officer, who was present at the cremation of Devender Singh, confirmed that the bodies were badly mutilated and not shown to relatives. The Army authorities informed that the heads were blown away during the fierce encounter, he said.

Lance Naik Devender Singh's uncle also admitted that the bodies weren't shown to the family members, and so did a 20 Kumaon regiment official. Militants fired rocket propelled grenades at the jawans, killing them on spot and blowing off their heads, the official said.

He, however, refused to share details of the encounter. Lt Col J. S. Brar, the official spokesperson, HQ 15 Corps wasn't available for comments.

Rajesh Kalia, the official spokesman of Udhampur based Northernern Command, said there was an infiltration bid near Farkian Gali, which is close to the Line of Control (LOC), and that they had lost three men.

When asked if militants beheaded Indian soldiers, Kalia avoided a direct reply by merely commenting that " details weren't available". But, the actual incident is quietly being discussed among the army circles in the valley.

A commanding officer of a Rashtriya Rifles ( RR) unit, deployed in the Kupwara sector, also privately confirmed that militants had beheaded two soldiers of the Kumaon unit.

Officers said that the trend of beheading armymenby the militants has resurfaced after four yeras.

A major rank officer of Kumaon Scouts, however, claimed that soldiers were martyred in a fierce encounter, which took place at 16.40 hrs on July 30, near Kupwara.

The ambush party had come under attack from three sides.

The barbaric incident is despicable and has outraged top army officers, stated one colonel posted in Kupwara sector.

In 1999 also, there was a national outcry, when Kargil hero Lt Saurabh Kalia and five Jawans were captured by Pakistani troops.

They were brutally tortured and then shot dead.

According to Lt Kalia's father's online petition, Pakistan had dared to humiliate India by flouting all international norms.

The Birkin effect: Our jawans are beheaded

Pioneer 24 August 2011 15:26
Kanchan Gupta

Pakistan’s businesswoman-turned-Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar may feign to be miffed that the media chose to focus attention on her Birkin handbag, Roberto Cavalli sunglasses, Jimmy Choo shoes and South Sea pearls during her recent visit to India rather than her intellectual contribution towards peace-making between a terrorist state and its victim neighbour, but that does not in any manner diminish the fact that a calculated gamble by the decrepit civilian Government in Islamabad and the criminal military-jihadi complex in Rawalpindi has served its purpose and paid rich dividends.

The feckless political class in India has elected to be reduced to a bowl of quivering jelly in the face of Pakistan’s charm offensive, much as it was when Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto brought along his daughter Benazir and managed to extract huge concessions at Simla in 1972 without raising any hackles. As for the media of this unfortunate country, led as it is by television channels desperate to grab eyeballs whatever it takes and ever-so-mindful of sensitivities across the Radcliffe Line, it has neither the time nor the inclination to look beyond the obvious. Given as we are to self-flagellation, self-doubt and self-denigration, it is only natural that our media, which frankly reflects our society without any distortion, should have seized upon Ms Khar’s visit to paint Pakistanis as the sub-continent’s beautiful people and Indians as the beasts. Nothing could have exemplified this better than the running commentary by the editor of a news channel comparing fuddy-duddies in the Government of India with the swish visiting Minister, and how we as a nation are straggling while Pakistan is boldly marching forward. It’s a pity that our media houses continue to enjoy the untold and never-to-be disclosed benefits of stationing their studios in Delhi and its suburbs; their hearts and minds belong elsewhere.

And so it is that ever since Ms Khar came to Delhi, showed off her sartorial preference for hand-made exclusive Hermes bags which she wouldn’t dare flaunt in the lanes of Karachi and conquered our Left-liberal commentariat which controls media content, rare has been the story or article critical of Pakistan or fair in its assessment of that country’s continued hate India, harm India policy that is implemented with the ruthless fanaticism of jihadis who have dedicated their lives to the mass slaughter of innocent men, women and children. Hence, it stands to reason that our media should have purposefully glossed over the barbaric beheading of two Indian soldiers by Pakistanis — it is unclear whether the perpetrators were Pakistani soldiers or Pakistani terrorists being provided cover by the former while trying to sneak into India — near the Line of Control in Kupwara district of Jammu & Kashmir. The ghastly incident, it now transpires, occurred late last month, around the time of Ms Khar’s visit. Sketchy details that are available suggest the Indian soldiers’ bodies were “dumped” on our side of the LoC, which would mean they were kidnapped, tortured and then beheaded, a ritual without which jihadis believe their faith-ordained task is incomplete.

India Today’s web edition, which has a story on the brutality, says “It is suspected that militants killed the jawans from the 20 Kumaon Regiment, beheaded the duo and reportedly retained their heads as war trophies.” The journal says, “A senior Army official, requesting anonymity, disclosed that the two men of Kumaon Regiment were killed and their heads were chopped off. Their bodies were also mutilated.” Such was the mutilation that the families of the soldiers were requested not to lift the shrouds covering their bodies. Quoting Army officials, the report identifies the two martyrs as Havildar Jaipal Singh Adhikari and Lance Naik Devender Singh. A third jawan, from 19 Rajput Regiment, was shot dead. His name has not been disclosed. The fallen soldiers were cremated on Wednesday at their native villages in Pithoragarh and Haldwani districts of Uttarakhand. But for the report in India Today, India would have remained ignorant of this horror story.

Unfortunately, the Army has chosen to maintain a strange silence. According to officials who spoke to India Today, this is because confirmation of the slaughter would ‘demoralise’ the soldiers on duty. But that’s balderdash: Jawans are not known to take the killing of their fellow jawans lightly, nor do they suffer loss of morale. If anything, it hardens their resolve and strengthens their belief that the enemy must be fought tooth and nail, till the last man standing. The capture and subsequent horrific torture of Lt Saurabh Kalia and five jawans whose mutilated, unrecognisable bodies were returned by the Pakistani Army did not weaken the resolve of our men in uniform during the Kargil war. While media is to be blamed for not sniffing out the story and splashing it (although it spared no effort to sniff out that Ms Khar was indeed carrying a Birkin handbag and that it could cost up to Rs 17 lakh and then went on to inform us why those who carry this bag are to be taken seriously) we must not overlook the role of our effete political leadership in keeping such details of Pakistani perfidy under wraps. It would not be unfair to presume that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, desperate to go down in history as the friend of a country that torments India, took personal interest in ensuring the story did not surface in the public domain; it would have remained a secret had an intrepid reporter of India Today not put it out.

Soon after I resumed writing for this newspaper in 2004 after returning to India from Cairo where I was posted on a Government assignment, I had penned a piece on a similar incident that had missed the attention of media and fetched no protest from the Government of India, headed then as it is now by Mr Manmohan Singh. Late in the evening on Saturday, April 16, 2005, an Assistant Commandant and a constable of the Border Security Force, on duty at Lankamura outpost on the India-Bangladesh border, a mere eight km from Tripura’s capital, Agartala, were dragged into Bangladeshi territory. By the time the BSF got them back, Assistant Commandant Jeevan Kumar was dead. He had been shot at point blank range. Injuries on his body indicated he was brutally knifed before being killed. Constable KK Surendran, seriously injured, was battling for his life. I must confess I do not know whether he survived that attack. On that occasion, in the absence of any official statement, I had sought to reconstruct events on the basis of what local residents had to say: The two men were rushed by a group of Bangladesh Rifles personnel in civilian clothes, dragged across the border and then set upon by their colleagues. All the while, the BDR’s men kept firing on the Lankamura outpost. The firing stopped around midnight, followed by a hastily arranged flag meeting during which Kumar’s lifeless body and a barely alive Surendran were handed over to the BSF. There was not even a word of condemnation.

PS: On Kargil Diwas I tweeted about Saurabh Kalia. There were numerous tweets in response, asking me who was Saurabh Kalia. Those asking this question were young Indians, well-educated and from middle-class families. A nation forgets its martyrs when it is led by those who hold martyrs in contempt and are elected to office by those who are bowled over by Birkin handbags, Roberto Cavalli sunglasses, Jimmy Choo shoes and South Sea pearls — namely, our selfish, self-serving middle-classes.

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