Pakistan `tortured Indians to death'

JASWANT SINGH, India's Foreign Minister, talks like an English toff and even looks like one, with his bushy eyebrows and haughty chin. But yesterday, releasing evidence of Pakistani iniquity in the battle of Kashmir, he was transformed.

He trembled with emotion and seemed close to tears as he described how six Indian soldiers had been tortured and mutilated in Pakistani Kashmir before being killed. "These soldiers were tortured and subjected to torture repeatedly," he told a press conference in Delhi. "The condition of the bodies makes it clear that all injuries were ante-mortem, and deaths were caused by torture.

"This is not simply a breach of established norms, it is a civilisational crime against all humanity, a return to barbarous medievalism," he went on. "We demand the perpetrators be brought to justice. I feel as if I have been personally violated. The dignity of every Indian soldier has been violated."

Mr Singh and his Pakistani counterpart, Sartaj Aziz, were to hold talks yesterday that could lower the temperature in Kashmir's "near war", which has cost several hundred lives in five weeks. But the clouds of more general war are gathering over India and Pakistan.

The Indo-Pak relations have plummeted to a new low after the return of the tortured and mutilated bodies on Thursday. The six soldiers had been part of a patrol ambushed on or soon after 14 May. Some had eyes gouged out, others had genitals severed or skulls smashed. Old Indian soldiers said barbaric treatment of prisoners has long been traditional among the tribes in the north of Pakistan, where wives have been known to flay prisoners alive.

Many of the guerrillas who infiltrated the Indian side of the Line of Control (LoC), which is Kashmir's de facto border, are believed to be ethnic Pathan tribesmen from Afghanistan.

The macabre mutilations may have a simple explanation. The handover of the remains, on the eve of the Pakistani Foreign Minister's visit and a week after Indian pathologists say the men were killed, suggests someone in what Jaswant Singh calls "the Pakistani establishment" wants to torpedo the talks and goad India into escalating the conflict.

Indians believe the fighting was a Pakistani army initiative. A respected analyst, Saeed Naqvi, wrote in the Indian Express yesterday that the Kargil operation might have been launched soon after the Indian and Pakistani prime ministers had talks about burying the hatchet, in New York, back in September.

For peace to break out would always be a problem for Pakistan's armed forces, which swallow 25 per cent of GDP. "That is when the army saw the writing on the wall," Mr Naqvi writes. The timing of the body handover fuels the army conspiracy theory.

The latest outbreak began on 5 May when India's 121 Brigade sent a six- man patrol along the LoC at 18,000ft in the rugged, treeless Ladakh mountains, to check whether the snow had retreated enough for the summer positions to be re- occupied.

But all six vanished. When a second patrol went out to search, two died covering their comrades' retreat and India discovered hundreds of guerrillas had established fortified positions deep inside the Indian border, on the peaks of the hills, with sophisticated equipment and supply lines back to Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.

India started air strikes on 19 May to destroy these positions, and MiGs attack almost daily. The Indians say the guerrillas include Pakistan army regulars as well as mercenaries.

Sartaj Aziz's visit was proposed by Pakistan's Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, on the phone to the Indian Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee. Yesterday, Jaswant Singh said: "India is committed to the dialogue [with Pakistan] because we are the initiators of the dialogue ... We continue to believe that in the ultimate, peace must prevail between these two lands."

Mr Singh's demands for Mr Aziz are "re-establishment of the status quo ante", and that "the perpetrators [of atrocities against Indian soldiers] be brought to justice".

He said Pakistan should pull back from "this ill-judged adventure". But what if the Pakistanis don't, a journalist asked? "Time will tell," said Mr Singh.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
Arts and Entertainment
L to R: Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evans) & Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in Avengers Assemble
film
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams' “Happy” was the most searched-for song lyric of 2014
musicThe power of song never greater, according to our internet searches
Sport
Tim Sherwood raises his hand after the 1-0 victory over Stoke
footballFormer Tottenham boss leads list of candidates to replace Neil Warnock
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Roffey says: 'All of us carry shame and taboo around about our sexuality. But I was determined not to let shame stop me writing my memoir.'
books
News
i100
News
Caplan says of Jacobs: 'She is a very collaborative director, and gives actors a lot of freedom. She makes things happen.'
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015