Jammu/ New Delhi: The Pakistani attack on a border domination patrol of the Indian Army at the Line of Control near Poonch in which five Indian soldiers were killed and one injured saw the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance Government facing a tough time in Parliament with the Opposition blaming the Centre of not doing enough to deal with what it called was a "terror strike" on Indian posts along the LoC.
While the Centre warned Pakistan that such attacks could hit ties, the opposition parties and the Samajwadi Party tore into the UPA with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accusing the regime of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of siding with Pakistan.
The Indian patrol was attacked and fired upon well inside the Indian side of the LoC between Monday midnight and 1 am on Tuesday by at least 20 Pakistani troops and Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorists. According to the Army, 10-12 soldiers of 21st Battalion of the Bihar Regiment, which is deployed in the sector, along with a few from the Maratha Light Infantry Regiment were patrolling the border on Monday night when they were ambushed at Chakan da Bagh by the Pakistani intruders.
While the Centre warned Islamabad that such attacks could hit ties, BJP accused the UPA of siding with Pakistan.
Defence Minister AK Antony said in Parliament that at least 20 heavily armed men dressed in the Pakistani Army uniform, entered the Indian side of the LoC and ambushed the soldiers near the Indian post Sarla late on Monday night. The Indian soldiers were on a border domination exercise when they were fired upon at around midnight. The attack took place between midnight and 1 am. The attackers included Lashkar-e-Toiba Border Action Team (BAT) which has highly trained terrorists for carrying out such attacks with the help of Pakistani Army. The dead included four from the Bihar Regiment and one belonged to Maratha Light Infantry.
Even as the Centre summoned the Pakistani Deputy High Commissioner and lodged a strong protest over the killing, the opposition called for tough action and asked the government to not go ahead with resuming the dialogue process.
"The Prime Minister is silent. Why didn't he come to Parliament when it was pre-planned that Pakistan issue will be raised here? It was a day when the country should have sent a united message to Pakistan," said senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha. Sinha called for immediate suspension of dialogue with Pakistan until Islamabad assures such untoward action would never takes place from its soil and asked the Congress-led government to clarify whether it was with India or Pakistan.
BJP leader Arun Jaitley launched a scathing attack on the government in the Rajya Sabha for its soft posture. He hit out at Antony for claiming that attackers were dressed in Pakistan Army uniform, saying that such comments provide an escape route to Pakistan. "You are almost giving an opportunity to Pakistan to say that non-state actors were involved in the incident," he said.
Reminding the government that Pakistan has carried such ghastly activities in the past, Jaitley said: "These incidents are not taking place in isolation. Earlier this year you had soldiers being beheaded and then Sarabjit Singh was killed in a Pakistani prisoon. Two days ago there was bomb blast outside the Indian consulate in Jalalbad (Afghanistan). You have had a series of cross borders terrorism incidents and these incidents have increased."
"Is the Pakistani civilian government in full control of Pakistan? Or are the strategies in these issues decided by someone else. The dialogue process must depend on what Pakistan's attitude is. Therefore, we will have to modulate our foreign policy to give a clear message to Pakistan that these kinds of attacks will not be tolerated," said the BJP leader.
Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh asked why the government was not prepared to protect its borders claiming that a terrorist group based in Pakistan had recently surveyed Indian targets. He claimed that New Delhi's soft stand over the unresolved border issues were giving confidence to China to adopt aggressive posturing around Indian borders. "I want to alert the government that there is a possibility that China is preparing to attack India. China has made a complete map of our borders," claimed Yadav and urged the government to take a strong stand over such incidents and assured that the whole House and the country will stand by the government on steps that it takes.
While the SP chief slammed the government over its unpreparedness, his party colleague Ramgopal Yadav accused the Defence Minister for not using strong words to condemn Pakistan. Reacting strongly to Antony's statement, Yadav said: "The defence minister's statement is unsatisfactory as it has given way to Pakistan to escape responsibility."
The Left parties were also vocal on the issue. While CPI leader D Raja slammed the government for not taking up the matter with Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain, CPM politburo member Sitaram Yechury claimed that New Delhi has failed miserably to check infiltration attempts near the border. "Are we becoming incapable of defending ourselves? What are the steps taken by the government with Pakistan? Infiltration attempts have doubled and ceasefire violation has increased by 80 per cent," claimed Yechury.
"This is a very serious mistake being committed by the minister. Is there any basis to the comment made by the minister?" Yechury asked Antony about his comment that the attackers were terrorists probably dressed in army uniform.