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I am disappointed to receive defence minister A K Antony’s letter stating that the government can do little to force Pakistan to punish those who tortured, killed and mutilated the body of Capt. Saurabh Kalia and five other soldiers during the Kargil War of 1999. For the last few years, I have repeatedly said that their killing can in no circumstance be treated as a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan.
I understand that under the Simla Agreement of 1972 the government has to resolve all issues and concern with neighbouring Pakistan bilaterally. India can not take up any such issues of dispute to international fora. Both the governments have to sit across the table and look for a solution.
But, this is a clear violation of human rights and treatment of enemy soldiers under the Geneva Convention. ‘Grave breaches’ are defined under the Geneva Convention as ‘War Crime’. It clearly states that if an act committed against a person protected by the convention is of the nature of “willful killing, torture or inhumane treatment; willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health”, it must be dealt in under international laws, and cannot be subjected to bilateralism.
Therefore, I cannot comprehend the very rationale behind the government’s move to deal in with this issue under the Simla Accord, as this is a clear case of war crime and violations of the said conventions. Strangely, the response to the letter comes almost two years after I wrote to the ministry for external affairs urging them to take up the issue with the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and the International Court of Justice, to declare this brutal act as a war crime, to seek justice for the Indian martyrs.
For the last few years, I have used every forum to campaign for justice for his family. The nation owes it to the brave Indian soldier. Until those who are responsible for this war crime are brought to book, Capt Kalia’s inhuman and degrading treatment can not be forgotten, or forgiven, by us.
By taking shelter behind the Simla Accord, the government has not only shrugged its responsibility, but has also done great disservice to the personnel of the Armed Forces.
It is unfortunate that government is failing to talk about the principles of natural justice and laws being violated against our soldiers. I have always stated that it is about our men and women in uniform, who serve the nation and expect the nation to back them when in time of need. Such response from government can have adverse impact on the morale of our troops.
The act of seeking justice for this crime perpetrated on Capt Kalia and others is not-and must not be seen as-an act against Pakistan or the people of that country, but as an issue of law and in pursuit of justice to crimes committed against a soldier during times of war.
As an independent Member of Parliament I have raised the issue on many occasions, in Parliament and public forums, to even the United Nation Human Rights Commission. We urged UNHRC to ensure a full and independent investigation so that justice is achieved.
With the government of India washing its hands off, I do hope that UNHRC will take cognisance of my petition and order an investigation into this matter to identify an punish all the perpetrators of this brutal crime.