Will take few days to secure release of soldier who crossed into Pakistan: India's defence minister
Manohar Parrikar clarified that the capture of the soldier was not related to the Indian army's strikes across the LoC. Photograph: (AFP)
India's defence minister Manohar Parrikar today said it would take "some days" to secure the release of the Army jawan who "inadvertently" crossed over into Pakistan because of the prevailing tensions between the two South Asian countries.
The minister, however, assured that a "well-established mechanism" had been activated to bring the soldier back, Indian news agency PTI reported.
The army jawan, Chandu Babulal Chavan, from 37 Rashtriya Rifles (a branch of the Indian Army under the authority of the Indian ministry of Defence) had crossed over to the other side of the Line of Control on September 30.
"He had crossed over which happens in border areas. There is a well-established mechanism through DGMO (Director General of Military Operations) which has been activated. Since the situation is tense right now, it will take some days to bring the soldier back," the minister, while inaugurating a cleanliness drive, said.
Parrikar also said that people should remain alert and report anything unusual to the police.
Indian Army on Thursday announced that it had conducted surgical strikes on five terrorist launchpads across the Line of Control in Pakistan-administered Kashmir killing several militants.
Pakistan, however, denied the strikes and instead claimed it had captured one Indian soldier while he was trying to cross the LoC during cross-border shelling. Pakistani media also quoted the country's security forces as saying that eight Indian soldiers had been killed in the cross-border firing.
The Indian army dismissed these claims, stating that that there was no relation between the surgical strikes and the soldier crossing the border the next day.
"Such inadvertent crossing by army and civilians are not unusual on either side. They are returned through existing mechanisms," the Indian Army had said in an official statement.
India's surgical strikes were a direct response to the attack by Pakistani militants in Uri on September 18 that claimed the lives of 19 soldiers.
After an increase in derogatory comments between the two sides, Parrikar on Saturday likened Pakistan to a patient under the influence of anaesthesia. "It is just like anaesthesia. When anaesthesia is given, you don't realise the surgery is over. It's been two days and Pakistan has still no idea what has happened," he had said.
Indian interior minister Rajnath Singh had called up the family of the solider on Friday and assured them that efforts are being made to secure his release.
Chavan's grandmother had passed away after hearing the news of his crossing over to Pakistan, according to local media reports.
Indian and Pakistani troops exchanged fresh fire across their border on Saturday even as UN chief Ban Ki-moon offered to mediate. However, there were no reports of activity on Sunday.
(WION with inputs from agencies)