A top Indian Army officer asserted the incident merited a “response”.
Emotions ran high as the bodies of the army’s Naib Subedar Paramjeet Singh and the Border Security Force’s Head Constable Prem Sagar reached their hometowns - Tarn Taran in Punjab and Deoria in Uttar Pradesh - for the last rites.
The families and relatives and those gathered to pay their homage demanded revenge against Pakistan for allegedly mutilating the bodies after killing the two in Krishna Ghati sector of Poonch district on Monday.
Defence Minister Arun Jaitley met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the morning and the situation arising out of the beheading of the soldiers came up for discussion. There was no official word on what transpired but sources believe that the government’s response in the current situation could have been among the points of discussion.
The anger over the killings and decapitation was reflected in the statement of a slain soldier’s daughter, who demanded “50 Pakistani heads” in revenge for her father’s killing, a sentiment that was echoed during both funerals.
Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the sacrifices of the soldiers would not go in vain but did not elaborate. However, he said everyone should speak in one voice on the issue.
But Pakistan denied the charge as Director General Military Operations Lt Gen A K Bhatt spoke over hotline with his Pakistani counterpart and expressed “grave concern” over the mutilation.
The DGMO told the Pakistani military commander that “full fire support” was provided by a Pakistani military post to the killers.
“DGMO Indian Army conveyed that such dastardly and inhuman act is beyond any norm of civility and merits unequivocal condemnation and response,” an army statement said.
Lt Gen Bhatt also expressed concern over the presence of training camps of the Border Action Team (BAT), made up of Pakistani military and the terrorists it trains, close to the LoC.
On his part, the Pakistani official said there was no ceasefire violation from their side nor was there mutilation of Indian soldiers, a statement from the army’s Inter-Services Public Relations said.
Meanwhile, there was political sparring with the Congress launching a strident attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Senior leader and former defence minister A K Antony said there have been at least three incidents of mutilation of Indian soldiers since the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in May 2014 while there was only one during the 10-year Congress rule.
“During my time, eight years, there was only one incident of mutilation. During the BJP government’s time, there have been three incidents of mutilation. Moreover, these incidents have shattered the morale of Indian people, Indian Army.”
Antony also said the continuous attacks on military installations have put a question mark over the security structure on the border.
“My only request to the government is to give freedom to the army to take appropriate action at an appropriate time as a reaction to this cowardly, inhuman, barbaric action,” Antony said.
His colleague and former minister Kapil Sibal also needled the government by recalling what BJP leader Smriti Irani had said at the time of the beheading incident during the Congress rule.
“During the UPA government, a woman MP (Irani) had then asked if bangles should be sent to Manmohan Singh. That MP, who is now a minister, will she send bangles to Narendra Modi?” he asked at a party briefing.