New Delhi, Aug. 8: Defence minister A.K. Antony told Parliament today “specialist troops… were involved” in the LoC ambush that killed five Indian soldiers late on Monday night, directly accusing Pakistan’s army for the first time since the attack.
Main Opposition BJP played up the statement as an “admission of mistake” and suspended its protest that had stalled Parliament over the minister’s earlier comment that avoided directly implicating the Pakistan Army.
The truce, however, did not help the Lok Sabha transact any substantial business, though the Rajya Sabha did pass an amendment bill.
Antony, who took a tough stand, said it was “now clear that specialist troops of (the) Pakistan Army were involved in this attack” which he described as “brutal and unprovoked”.
“We all know that nothing happens from the Pakistan side of the Line of Control without support, assistance, facilitation and often, direct involvement of the Pakistan Army,” he told both the Houses, significantly amending his earlier statement.
On Tuesday, he had said “terrorists along with persons dressed in Pakistan Army uniform” were involved in the attack in Jammu, prompting an outraged Opposition to describe the statement as a “clean chit” to Islamabad.
Antony, who said his statement on Tuesday was based on information available at that time, also warned of consequences. “Naturally, this incident will have consequences on our behaviour on the Line of Control and for our relations with Pakistan,” he said, adding, “Our restraint should not be taken for granted.”
He also asked Pakistan to “show tangible movement on bringing those responsible for the Mumbai terrorist attack to justice quickly” and punish those responsible for the beheading of an Indian soldier on the LoC in January this year.
Lok Sabha leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj welcomed the “rectification”. “We are happy that the defence minister has accepted his mistake and tried to rectify it…. He has said the Pakistan Army was directly involved…” the BJP leader said after Antony’s statement in the House. “I want to tell the defence minister that … such mistakes should not be repeated.”
BJP leaders termed Antony’s statement a “U-turn” and demanded that the government keep away from any kind of talks with Pakistan.
“Our demand to end talks with Pakistan still holds. We also want a debate on the broader issue of terror and intrusions,” party leader Yashwant Sinha told reporters outside Parliament.