NEW DELHI: The Army is bracing for retaliation to avenge the mutilation of the bodies of two of its soldiers on Monday and major action is inevitable given the “despicable” nature of the cross-border raid by Pakistan. According to top military sources in the national capital, the Army will respond “suitably” and already small and medium range weapon firing has started on the Line of Control (LOC). Army Chief General Bipin Rawat reached Srinagar later in the day to take stock of the situation.
Terming mutilation of the bodies as an act of “extreme barbarism” Arun Jaitley said, "Such attacks do not even take place during war,” and that the "whole country has full faith in the armed forces". "This is a reprehensible and inhuman act,” he said, adding that the sacrifice of the soldiers will not go in vain.
But before New Delhi could respond officially, Pakistan Army promptly denied the incident and said it did not commit any ceasefire violation on LOC or a Border Action Team (BAT) action in Buttal sector (Indian Krishna Ghati Sector) as alleged by India.
It said India's claim of mutilations are also false, in a tweet by the Pakistan Army. It said the Pakistani Army is a highly professional force and shall never disrespect a soldier even in India. Incidentally, the cross-border raid took place a day after Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa visited some forward posts on the LOC on Haji Pir.
Asserting that the Indian Army will take appropriate action, officials said here the retaliation will be “longish”. A graded response as part of a well-thought out strategy will unfold in the coming days and Pakistan Army posts giving cover fire to militants to sneak into Jammu and Kashmir will be targeted.
Moreover, the staging areas located close to the LOC from where BAT teams comprising militants and highly trained commandos of Special Services Group(SSG) of Pakistan Army in Jammu and Kashmir will also face the “full fury” of the artillery barrage in the coming days, officials said.
As regards the BAT action on Monday in the 16 Corps covering Jammu division, they said the entire sequence of events, including the mutilation of bodies, took place within a span of five to seven minutes. The BAT team infiltrated about 250 metres into the Indian territory in Krishna Ghati sector in Poonch soon after the Pakistan Army started firing rocket-propelled grenades and resorted to mortar firing on the Indian posts at about 8.40 am.
In the ensuing melee, the BAT team sneaked in and targeted the ten-member joint patrol team of the Indian Army and Border Security Force (BSF), they said. The Indian team was proceeding from one post to another located about 600 metres apart when the firing started and officials said the raid cum ambush was well-planned as the local commanders on the other side of the LOC had monitored the movement pattern of Indian patrols for some days before launching the attack.
Asked how the raiding team managed to infiltrate into a well-guarded zone, sources admitted that the ambush site is thickly forested and semi-mountainous and a small BAT team of four to five trained fighters can easily infiltrate. Moreover, Pakistan Army in that area has the advantage of terrain as its posts are located higher than India thereby giving a better view of the posts here, they said.
The next few days will see the Indian Army posts located on higher ground than Pakistani posts close to the LOC, sources said, adding some posts known to actively aid and abet infiltration will come under intense fire assault. The Army had resorted to such an action soon after militants mutilated the body of an Indian soldier in November last year and destroyed several Pakistani posts besides inflicting casualties as punitive measure.
Meanwhile, nearly all 65 ceasefire violations this year by Pakistan have taken place in the 16 Corps region. More than 225 such violations along the LOC in the area of 16 Corps and 15 Corps covering Kashmir Valley took place last year while 150 such violations were reported in 2015.
Apprehending a spike in levels of violence in the coming weeks, sources said 18 soldiers had died so far this year including three on the LOC in ceasefire violations and remaining in encounters with the militants in the hinterland.