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India dismisses Pakistan allegations on Rangers’ killing, Sushma replies strongly

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has written back to Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs, dismissing his contentions that BSF soldiers killed two Pakistani troopers “in cold blood”.

Aziz, in a letter to Sushma Swaraj on Friday, had protested the killing of two Punjab Rangers personnelin Zafarwal sector and demanded a probe into the incident and for “bringing the perpetrators to account”.

In a detailed response, Sushma Swaraj stated that the incidents on Dec 31 in Jammu sector commenced when a routine Border Security Force patrol flying an identifying flag came under sniper fire from a Pakistan border post, which resulted in the death of one Indian personnel and serious injuries to another.

She emphasized that Pakistani commanders responded to Indian defensive fire by escalating matters by using higher calibre weapons, expanding the zone of conflict to other sub sectors and targeting civilian habitations, said the statement.

The external affairs minister categorically said that 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.

The consistent Indian message conveyed 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, she said.

The minister emphasized that India always adhered by the mechanisms that have been evolved to ensure peace and tranquility on the International Border and Line of Control and would continue to do so and urged Aziz also ensure that Pakistan’s forces do the same, the statement said.

Aziz in his letter, said that on Dec 31, “the Indian Border Security Force troops invited the personnel of the Punjab Rangers for a flag meeting, but greeted the unsuspecting soldiers with a volley of unprovoked fire, causing severe injuries to two soldiers. The unabated Indian firing denied timely medical attention to the wounded soldiers, who succumbed to their injuries..”

Aziz wrote that the incident was condemned by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as well as the entire nation “and expressed their shock and anger at the killing of the soldiers in cold blood”.

He also briefed the Heads of the Missions of P-5 countries and the EU in Islamabad and emphasized the importance of maintaining ceasefire on the LoC and Working Boundary.

“He stressed the urgency of the international community playing its role in counselling India to refrain from actions that threaten peace and stability in the region,” he said in his letter.

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