After five Indian soldiers were killed early on Tuesday in Jammu and Kashmir by about 20 heavily armed terrorists along with men dressed in Pakistani Army uniform, Defence Minister AK Antony told parliament that the Indian Army was ready to take necessary steps to uphold the sanctity of the Line of Control (LoC).
"The ambush was carried out by approximately 20 heavily armed terrorists along with persons dressed as in Pakistan Army uniform," Antony said in his suo moto statement in the two houses. His remark drew protests from Bharatiya Janata Party members.
Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley, who sought clarifications, said the minister was giving Pakistan a chance to say that the attackers were non-state actors. However, Antony said he had made the remark as India is a responsible country.
Army prepared to uphold LoC's sanctity, says Antony
In the Lok Sabha, BJP leader Yashwant Sinha spoke on the killings but his speech was drowned out by the protesting Seemandhra MPs. Jaitley said in the upper house that the country was united on the question of national security and that was the strongest answer to "our enemy".
In his statement, Antony said the government condemned the unprovoked incident and had lodged a protest with Pakistan through diplomatic channels. "I assure the house that our army is ready to take all necessary steps to uphold the sanctity of the Line of Control," Antony said.
"A patrol party of the army comprising one non-commissioned officer and five other ranks were ambushed on our side of the Line of Control in Poonch sector early Tuesday morning. In the ensuring firefight five soldiers were martyred and one was injured when," the minister said.
He noted that the number of infiltration attempts have doubled in 2013 in comparison to the corresponding period Jan 1-Aug 5, 2012. There have also been 57 ceasefire violations this year, around 80 percent more than the same period last year, he said.
According to Antony, the Indian Army successfully killed 19 terrorists in July and August along the LoC and in the Jammu and Kashmir hinterland. "The effective counter-infiltration grid on the LoC has ensured that 17 bids were foiled in 2013," he added.
Speaking in the Rajya Sabha following Antony's statement, Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati said India needed to take firm steps in the light of the soldiers' killingambush. "It should not be that we keep a soft attitude and things slip by," she said.
Janardhan Waghmare of the Nationalist Congress Party said that an impression was going that India was a soft state. Jaitley said India should give Pakistan a "befitting reply" and stop all dialogue with it.
"These incidents are not taking place in isolation. We had incidents of soldiers being beheaded, we had Sarabjit (Singh, who died in a Pakistan prison)...we have a series of incidents of cross border terrorism," he said.
"India needs to modulate its foreign policy to tell Pakistan this will not be accepted. The time has come to give a befitting reply," Jaitley said. He also slammed the defence minister for saying Indian soldiers were killed by terrorists dressed as Pakistani soldiers.
"The minister said people dressed as Pakistani soldiers army killed Indian soldiers. I hope this is not some kind of typographical error," Jaitley said.
"When you say this, you are giving Pakistan a chance to say they were non-state actors. The distinction between state and non-state actors in Pakistan is very ambiguous," he added.
In his reply to clarifications sought by members, Antony said his statement was based on the information available so far.
"India being a responsible country, that is why our government made such statement... The house is speaking in one vocie, that is the beauty of Indian democracy. When the question of nation comes India is one. That is the strongest answer to our enemy according to me," he said.