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June 11, 1999
India hardens stand, puts murder
"We demand of Pakistan that the perpetrators of this barbaric crime against uniformed soldiers be identified and brought to book," External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh said at a crowded press conference on the eve of the crucial talks. He said Pakistan must also punish those responsible for killing Squadron Leader Ajay Ahuja.
He asserted that earlier there was only one item on the agenda: Pakistan's armed intrusion in Kargil. "Now there will be two items: barbarity against uniformed Indian soldiers and the restoration of status quo ante in Kargil."
Singh said the government shares the nation's outrage at the savage treatment meted out to the soldiers. "What we have witnessed is not simply breach of international norms, but a civilisational crime against humanity and barbaric mediaevalism... I am outraged. I feel I have been personally violated," he added.
Asked if there could be a war if Pakistan did not agree to India's demand to withdraw to the Line of Control, he said that was Pakistan's problem.
"Time will tell," the minister remarked when asked what India's response would be if Islamabad did not withdraw its infiltrators.
He made it clear that India is committed to the process of dialogue "because we are the initiators of the peace process". He said, "Even at this late stage, Pakistan will realise the folly of its misadventure [in Kargil] and pull back."
Singh said India has incontrovertible evidence of the involvement and complicity of the Pakistani establishment in the "misadventure" in Kargil.
Islamabad's involvement raised doubts about the brief Aziz is carrying for the talks, he said, adding that the questioning of the LoC's validity by Pakistani leaders was "dangerous".
Singh also released to the press transcripts of conversations between Pakistani Army chief General Pervez Musharraf, when he was in China last month, and his deputy, Lieutenant General Mohammed Aziz. The transcripts, dated May 26 and 29, clearly indicate the involvement of the Pakistani authorities in the Kargil intrusion.
"The two transcripts have been fully authenticated through voice authentication and printing," Singh said.
He said the bodies of the six Indian Army personnel handed over by the Pakistani Army on June 9 were wrapped in sleeping bags and placed in coffins. The bodies were brought to New Delhi this morning and post-mortems conducted on them in the presence of two independent observers.
The post-mortems confirmed that the Indian soldiers had been tortured repeatedly. The deaths were about a week old.
Asked whether he had given proof of the Pakistani involvement to some permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, Singh said, "We have... But I am afraid I can't disclose the details."
He said India is fully aware of Pakistan's game plan. "We will not fall into any of their traps, real or imaginary."