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Thursday, November 21, 2013

India not to pursue Saurabh Kalia's torture in International Court of Justice

I am posting this with extreme anguish……it is only cynical to write about wrongs…..but still…  On TV – you see young persons in an emotion filled scene leave home – heading for the services………… and reality can be cruel.  Kashmir alwyas enchants when seen in movies… we like the snow, the glaciers and imagine trekking in places like Leh in Ladakh.  Then there is the most talked about ‘Siachen Glacier’ …….. before we read something on Kargil War and its heroes here is a small snippet….

Army life no doubt is most sternous…… the one at Kargil is tougher still….soldiers stay away from their families, their beloved ones, with little or no communication ….. but life at Kargil is tougher…. ~ there would be freezing temperatures, life in tents and most strikingly no human connect at all – the next person could be miles away and supplies could come at a long frequency……… the depression could often lead to mental disorders… yet soldiers struggle, survive and sacrifice their today for our tomorrow.

The Kargil War, the armed conflict in 1999 will ever remain a scar… though India triumphed – at least 527 Indian soldiers lost their lives……. Here is something on a Hero, who was hardly 22 and had joined the Indian Army 4 months earlier.  Months earlier, the family was at Amritsar station proudly seeing off their son as he boarded the train to join the 4 Jat regiment as a lieutenant. ~ and sadly, the family could not see him again.

What a tragedy and how inhumane the killings had been.  When Pakistan returned the bodies of  Lt Saurabh Kalia and his five men – they were  in extremely mutilated conditions. Conventions of war do not mean a damn for a nation like Pakistan. In a war where an individual life loses its meaning, dying with dignity is probably the only hope. Dignity is precisely what Pakistan has violated: of our soldiers, their families and of this nation. According to the Geneva Convention, Prisoners of war must at all times be humanely treated.

Captain Kalia of the 4 Jat Regiment was the first Indian Army officer to observe and report large-scale intrusion by the Pakistani Army into the Indian side of the Line of Control in the Kargil sector of Jammu and Kashmir. He and five other soldiers were captured on May 15, 1999 and were in captivity for more than 20 days. Captain Kalia, and other soldiers had been tortured and tormented.

This year a few months back on a day the Supreme Court asked the government to explain whether it will take the case of Kargil martyr Saurabh Kalia's torture to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague, visiting Pakistani interior minister Rehman Malik said he was not aware whether Captain Kalia "died of a Pak bullet or weather".  Captain Kalia's case was raised by India in talks with visiting Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik. India asked Pakistan to take action against those responsible for torturing the officer to death.

Now comes the sad news that the Govt of India has stated that torture inflicted upon on slain martyr Capt. Saurabh Kalia by the Pakistan Army cannot be termed as a war crime. Counsel for the martyr’s family Arvind Sharma said the Union government told the Supreme Court that it had no intentions to raise the issue in the Geneva Convention since it was a signatory in the Shimla agreement of 1972.

The Supreme Court issued a notice to the Union government on a petition by Capt. Saurabh Kalia’s father N.K. Kalia on December 14, 2012, seeking a direction that the matter should be referred to the International Court of Justice. The family had even approached the Defence Ministry to raise the issue in the International Court. But the Ministry hinted on solving all the matters peacefully through bilateral talks with the neighbouring Pakistan. Capt. Kalia’s father has alleged that the government had never taken the issue seriously and never raised the matter in the bipartite talks even. Defence Minister A.K. Antony in his reply to Karnataka MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar in Rajya Sabha in October said that, “we are committed to settle differences with Pakistan by peaceful means and through bilateral negotiations.”

Pakistan may have denied for long that Captain Saurabh Kalia, and five of his platoon members, were tortured and killed by its soldiers during the Kargil War of 1999, but a video that surfaced on the web has nailed the lie. A video shot during a function of the Pakistani Army to felicitate Kargil heroes shows a Pak soldier reportedly admitting to killing Captain Kalia. Detailing his exploits with the audience, Pakistani soldier Naik Bhule Khandan boasted about his ‘heroism’ and admitted that he and his fellow soldiers had killed Captain Kalia and five of his platoon members.
It was not mere killing on war field …. They were tortured for weeks before being killed. Their mutilated bodies were handed over to India on June 9, 1999. Autopsy reports had shown extreme torture including cigarette burns, ear drums pierced with hot iron rods and amputated limbs.

The present move is clearly a cold feet  and means that Captain Saurabh Kalia will get no justice, not even from the government of the nation he so bravely died for. Daily Mail reports that in an affidavit filed by the Centre on a Supreme Court petition seeking to refer the case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) says it can't be done. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) says in the affidavit that it cannot move the ICJ as Pakistan might not permit it, and no country can be so compelled to. It says the effect on relations with our neighbour country has to be kept in mind, and that "moving the ICJ is not a legally enforceable right".

N.K. Kalia, the solider's father, naturally expressed his disappointment at the Centre's stance.  "Why is Indian government going soft on Pakistan even after several wars, continuing infiltration and export of terror? It is not just an issue of my son but no other Indian soldier shall be treated like this. There should be a deterrent," N.K. Kalia says, adding he will submit CDs of the Pakistani soldier's TV confession to the Supreme Court.

So yet another time a Political decision taking umbrage as a National perspective is cowing down the ethical responsibility of the Nation to respect, and protest a legally enforceable right.  Feeling very sad indeed.

With anguish for the slain Soldier and to the members of the martyrs’ family
-          S. Sampathkumar.

21st Nov. 2013

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