'Totally baseless', scoffs Antony at claims that India beheads Pak soldiers

A K Antony
India on Thursday rejected as "totally baseless" Pakistan's claim that its troops have also been beheaded by the Indian Army in the past.

Defence Minister A K Antony said though tension along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir have "reduced" after the talks between the Directors General of Military Operations of the two countries, there was a need to remain vigilant and his Ministry has advised the government against being hasty on the issue of normalising ties with Pakistan.

"Totally baseless," he told reporters here when asked about Pakistan Army's claim in complaints to the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) that several of its troops have been beheaded by the Indian Army in last 15 years.

Reports had said yesterday that Pakistan Army had filed complaints with UNMOGIP on the issue following which the Indian Army questioned the relevance of the UN body after the signing of the 1972 Simla agreement.

"Since the 1972 Simla Agreement, the relevance of UNMOGIP itself remains questionable," Army spokesperson Colonel J Dahiya had said.

Tension along the Line of Control (LoC) had increased between the two countries after the killing of two Indian soldiers by Pakistani troops on January 8 in J-K's Mendhar sector. One of them Lance Naik Hemraj was beheaded.

On reports that China was building three dams on the Brahmaputra river, Antony said, "We have not yet received the factual position. So, my reaction at the time would be premature. We will wait for the details and then the government will take a considered view."

He said "Even though after the second round of DGMO-level talks the tension around LoC has reduced, we cannot lower our guard and we have to be vigilant 24x7.

"We have to take all precautions to face any eventuality and we are advising everybody that do not be hasty about normalisation. You wait and watch and then only move forward. That is our approach," he said.

On the abandoning of an injured CRPF trooper by IAF's Garud security guards in Chhattisgarh after their helicopter came under fire by Naxals on January 18, Antony said, "We have not received the final result (of the report)."

The Defence Minister had sought a detailed report from IAF and other departments in connection with the incident.

IAF security guards had allegedly abandoned the Mi-17 chopper, their weapons and an injured constable after they were forced to land in thick forests of Bastar district.

Regarding the operations in Naxal areas, he said IAF and Army will not get involved in direct operations and they would provide logistics and training support to the central armed police forces.

To a query on the tussle among private sector shipyards for defence contracts, the Minister said, "It is a tragedy that they are fighting amongst themselves. Now we have totally changed the policy. Most of the orders are now 'buy Indian' only..."

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