The Line of Control (LoC), which refers to the 450-mile disputed border that separates the Kashmir region into territory respectively controlled by nuclear-armed foes Pakistan and India, is no stranger to acts of brutality, such as the recent beheadings and mutilations, considered “particularly humiliating,” reports the New York Times (NYT).
“Indian newspapers have reported around two dozen beheadings or mutilations of soldiers on the Pakistani and Indian sides since 1998, typically followed by denials of involvement by the opposing force,” notes the Times.
“The gruesome killings often lead the other side to seek vengeance, adding to the volatility of an already tense standoff between the two nuclear-armed nations,” it adds.
Despite a 2003 ceasefire agreement between Pakistan and India, the two nations have constantly been fighting along the LoC in recent months. The two countries have already fought two wars over the disputed Muslim-majority Kashmir region.
Acts of extreme brutality, including beheadings and mutilations, occur with some regularity along the Line of Control, the 450-mile disputed military frontier that divides Kashmir into Indian and Pakistani territory.
Assigned to remote outposts, the soldiers of both countries serve for years in a state of unrelenting tension, near enough to the enemy to exchange shouted obscenities. Heavily armed teams, often a mixture of militants and uniformed troops, will cross the line to ambush an outnumbered post or patrol, with the goal of inflicting maximum casualties in a brief time.
New Delhi has vowed to “retaliate” over recent claims that armed men from Pakistan beheaded and mutilated two Indian soldiers.
The Indian military has accused Pakistani “border action team,” which refers to a combination of militants and regular Pakistani forces, of carrying out the recent attack.
New Delhi has long accused its regional rival Pakistan of backing Islamic terrorists in Muslim-majority Kashmir who are fighting for independence from India or for a merger with Pakistan, a charge that Islamabad denies.
In turn, Pakistan accuses India of human rights violations, namely cracking down on dissent in India-held Kashmir.
On Monday, nine men were arrested in Indian-held Kashmir after they posed for pictures with a Pakistani flag.
“Police has registered an FIR [first information report] against the nine men, many of them students, and seized the handmade flag and the vehicle they were traveling in,” reports Hindustan Times.
“Investigations are on to ascertain how they procured the flag and what is their background,” an unnamed local police officer added.
Pakistan, its ally China, and their rival India all have competing claims to the Kashmir region.