India would continue to pursue the case of Captain Saurabh Kalia, whose mutilated body was handed over by Pakistan in the beginning of the Kargil war.
“We are handling it (Saurabh case) in an appropriate manner... now we are pursuing it with Pakistan,” Defence Minister A K Antony told reporters after laying a wreath at India Gate on the occasion of Vijay Diwas.
Captain Saurabh and five sepoys were captured alive by Pakistani troops during their patrol on May 15, 1999. Their mutilated bodies were handed over to the Indian side a few weeks later, in June.
Saurabh’s father N K Kalia had moved the Supreme Court recently to direct the Centre to sue Pakistan for Saurabh’s death at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the court issued a notice to the Centre in this regard.
On Friday, the Pakistani Interior Minister had claimed that he had not heard about Kalia’s case. Rehman Malik also said he was not aware whether Captain Saurabh died of a bullet or weather.
Faced with outrage, Malik later said the matter had been raised with him for the first time in his formal meetings on Friday. “I promised them that please give me the detail. I will return and will look into the matter and revert with detailed information. I sympathise with his (Saurabh’s) father,” he said.
Clarifying further, Malik said: “I said Kargil is full of snow. I said I don’t know whether he died of a bullet or because of any other reason or weather. So no negativity of any kind should be brought into it.”
He also argued that if Pakistan Army had been responsible for the death, the body would not have been returned. “If the Pakistani Army has tortured him, why would have they given his body,” Malik asked. He added that he was not expecting to answer questions on the Kalia case, when he landed in India on Friday.
Though Saurabh’s father had moved Supreme Court to direct Indian Government to take up the torture case of soldier son in the ICJ, sources said India could not make such a move unless it did a complete U-turn on a 38-year-old policy.
When India formally accepted the ICJ jurisdiction in 1974, it had accepted the charter with some additional conditions -- one being that disputes with Commonwealth members could not be taken up with the ICJ.
Besides, the ICJ Charter also stated that disputes could be taken up only when both the parties involved accepted the adjudication. India had used these provisions to argue that the ICJ did not have jurisdiction in Pakistan’s move to get compensation for the shooting down of Pakistani Atlantique plane, a point accepted by the court. “If we want, we can revoke the provisions that we accepted in 1974. But, even that will not help. It will take a year to get these changes accepted. Also, Pakistan will invoke their own provisions for not allowing the ICJ to judge the dispute,” said official sources.
According to sources, within a year of the Kargil war, India had raised the matter both bilaterally and in multilateral forums.