August 09, 2020
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What The Defence Minister Said

From "soldiers of Pak Army" to "persons dressed in Pakistan Army uniforms" to "the specialist troops of Pakistan Army"

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What The Defence Minister Said
AP Photo/ Indian Army
What The Defence Minister Said

When reports of the killing of five Indian soldiers on the LoC came in, the defence ministry, in the first government response to the killing of five soldiers, had blamed Pakistan army: "the ambush was carried out by approximately 20 heavily armed terrorists along with soldiers of Pak Army." However, the complicity of Pakistan's regulars found no mention in the statement that the defence minister made in the Rajya Sabha:

Suo Moto Statement in the Lok Sabha & Rajya Sabha by Defence Minister on Ambush Incident on LOC on August 06, 2013

A patrol of Indian Army comprising of one Non Commissioned Officer and five Other Ranks was ambushed on our side of Line of Control in Punch Sector of J&K early morning on August 6, 2013. In the ensuing firefight, five Indian soldiers were martyred and one soldier was injured. The ambush was carried out by approximately 20 heavily armed terrorists along with persons dressed in Pakistan Army uniforms.

The numbers of infiltration attempts have doubled this year in comparison to the corresponding period(1 Jan- 5 Aug) of 2012. There has also been 57 Cease Fire Violations this year which is 80% more than the violations last year during the same corresponding period. The Indian Army successfully eliminated 19 hardcore terrorists in the recent months of July and August along the Line of Control and in the hinterland in J&K. The effective counter infiltration grid on the Line of Control has ensured that 17 infiltration bids were foiled this year.

We strongly condemn this unprovoked incident. Government of India has lodged strong protest with Government of Pakistan through diplomatic channels. I assure the House that our Army is fully ready to take all necessary steps to uphold the sanctity of LoC. Government of India conveys its condolences to the families of the martyrs who made the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty.

As the opposition mounted a sustained attack on the defence minister's statement, charging the PMO with diluting the defence ministry's first response, the PMO sources while denying that the statement was tweaked, said that the defence minister's statement was vetted by senior ministers and officials including external affairs minister Salman Khurshid and national security advisor Shiv Shankar Menon besides Antony himself. The statement was also seen by foreign secretary Sujatha Singh, the DGMO and some defence ministry officers, the sources said.

The external affairs minister went to the extent of suggesting that the statement made by Antony in parliament was not contradictory and there was no scope of controversy, insisting that it was a "carefully thought out statement based on facts provided by the army," insisting that knowledge of facts changes in an evolving situation, suggesting that the army have erred in its initial assessment: "The army went out with a general view and they realised their mistake and so they sent out a corrected statement when the facts became clear... See the corrected version of the Indian Army press release and match it with what the defence minister says, it is exactly the same. I don’t think the statement is contradictory."

But eventually, the army view prevailed, and this is what the defence minister said today in Parliament.

Suo Moto Statement in the Lok Sabha by Defence Minister on August 8, 2013 on Unprovoked attack on our Troops on our Side of Line of Control

The brutal and unprovoked attack on an Indian patrol on our side of Line of Control (LC) on August 6, 2013 outraged us all. When I reported the incident to the House, it was Government's obligation to report the facts as we knew them at that point of time, and my statement was based on the available information.

Since then the Chief of the Army Staff has visited the area and gone into the details of the matter. It is now clear that the specialist troops of Pakistan Army were involved in this attack when a group from the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) side crossed the LC and killed our brave jawans. We all know that nothing happens from Pakistan side of the Line of Control without support, assistance, facilitation and often, direct involvement of the Pakistan Army.

Those in Pakistan who are responsible for this tragedy and the brutal killing of two soldiers earlier this year should not go unpunished. Pakistan should also show determined action to dismantle the terrorist networks, organizations and infrastructure and show tangible movement on bringing those responsible for the Mumbai terrorist attack in November 2008 to justice quickly.

Naturally, this incident will have consequences on our behaviour on the Line of Control and for our relations with Pakistan. Our restraint should not be taken for granted; nor should the capacity of our Armed Forces and resolve of the Government touphold the sanctity of the LC ever be doubted. 

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