NEW DELHI: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Saturday denied Islamabad’s charge that two Pakistani Rangers had been killed in cold blood by the BSF after being called under the pretext of holding a Flag Meeting. And the minister’s strong rebuttal came in a letter dispatched to her Pakistani counterpart.
“The External Affairs Minister categorically said at no stage did the Indian side seek any platoon-level contact under a white flag as was suggested in the communication sent to her,” said a news release from the Ministry of External Affairs.
According to the MEA, Sushma gave a “detailed response”, which pointed out that the firing began when a routine BSF patrol with an identifying flag came under fire on December 31 from a Pakistan border post. It resulted in the death of an Indian solder and resulted in serious injuries to another.
“She emphasised that Pakistani Commanders responded to Indian defensive fire by escalating matters by using high calibre weapons, expanding the zone of conflict to other sub-sectors and targeting civilian habitations,” said the official statement. The minister said India’s “consistent” message to Pakistan was that if they were to stop firing on Indian border posts defensive firing from the Indian side would end immediately.
“Unfortunately, Pakistan’s Commanders had chosen to ignore this advice until the evening,” said the statement. India would always adhere to mechanisms evolved to ensure peace and tranquility on the International Border(IB) and LoC and would continue to do so, said Sushma.
“She urged (Foreign Affairs and National Security Adviser Sartaj) Aziz to ensure that Pakistan’s forces do the same,” the statement said.
Aziz had shot off a letter to Sushma stating that two Pakistani Rangers were killed in “unprovoked” firing by the BSF when they went for a flag meeting on December 31. The letter was handed over to Indian High Commissioner T C A Raghavan by the Pakistan Foreign Secretary on Friday.