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Army Chief takes on Pak, says Indian jawan''s beheading ''unpardonable''

Army Chief takes on Pak, says Indian jawan''s beheading ''unpardonable'' New Delhi, Jan. 14 : Chief of Army Staff, General Bikram Singh, on Monday said Pakistan had pre-planned the whole operation, and added that the beheading and the mutilation of the bodies of two Indian jawans along the Line of Control (LoC) was against all rules of engagement, gruesome and unpardonable.

Conveying his condolences to the families of the two Indian jawans killed by Pakistani troops on January 8, General Singh said Pakistani action is against the ethics and principle of soldiering.

"My heart especially goes out today to the families of two soldiers who were killed on the 8th (January 8), who were mutilated after the operation on the 8th. It was a gruesome act, most unpardonable act. We have launched a very strong protest in this regard through the government, through the Director General of Military Operation (DGMO) and this is being taken up today," General Singh told the media here.

"Alongside, this act it defies all logic, it is against the very principles and rules of engagement. It is against the very ethics of soldiering and professionalism. And therefore, in very strong terms we have taken up this case with the Government of Pakistan through our government. The DGMOs have conveyed this in the talk," he added.

Asserting that India has lodged a strong protest with Pakistan, the Army Chief said ''we are holding a commanders'' flag meeting today at 1 p. m. and this will be conveyed again''.

"And this afternoon, we have the flag meeting. This again is put across, protest being launched in a very strong manner today," he said.

General Singh rubbished Pakistan''s claims, and said the Indian Army did not carry out any operation on January 6 as claimed by the other side.

"No operation has been undertaken by the Indian Army on the 6th (January 6) as alleged by the Pakistan Army. No operation was carried out by Indian Army on the 6th," he said.

The Army Chief further talked tough, saying the Indian Army reserves the right to retaliate when it is provoked.

"We will uphold the ceasefire as long as it is maintained. We reserve the right to retaliate at the time and place of our choosing. I expect my commanders on the LoC to be aggressive; they must understand that the Army hierarchy is behind them," he said.

General Singh said the government is trying diplomatically to bring back Lance Naik Hemraj''s head.

"Talks to get Lance Naik Hemraj''s head back being done at government level. We need to maintain and retain moral ascendancy at all costs," he said.

India and Pakistan will hold a Brigade Commander-level flag meeting in Jammu and Kashmir''s Poonch sector today during which New Delhi is expected to register strong protests against the brutal killing of two jawans by Pakistani soldiers along the LoC.

Two Indian jawans Lance Naik Hemraj and Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh were killed by infiltrating Pakistani soldiers in Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir on January 8.

Their bodies were found mutilated, sparking a diplomatic face-off between India and Pakistan and tension along the Line of Control that separates the two countries.

Expressing grave concern over the ceasefire violation and firing from the Pakistani side, Defence Minister A. K. Antony had earlier on Friday assured that enough troops have been deployed at the LoC and the government is taking all steps to protect the nation''s interests.

"I don''t want to jump to conclusions. But, this kind of occasional ceasefire violation and firing is a cause of serious concern to us, because even though the violence level inside Kashmir has come down, the attempt to infiltrate is increasing, and also ceasefire violations are increasing. This is a matter of concern to us," said Antony.

"And, the tragic provocative action a few days back, that was a turning point at the moment. I can tell you one thing only, we are closely monitoring the whole developments. We are closely monitoring our entire border. Our people are on alert," he added.

Pakistan has denied India''s claim that its troops crossed the Line of Control to ambush a patrol party in the Mendhar sector in Poonch district. (ANI)