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Captain Kalia's issue was never raised officially with Pakistan: Rehman Malik

Posted on Dec 15, 09:20PM | IANS

Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik today expressed full sympathies with Kargil martyr Captain Saurabh Kalia's family, and added that Islamabad would definitely reply to the report concerning this case for the issue has now been taken up bilaterally from the Indian side.

"I deny it. This matter was never raised officially, it was never a part of the bilateral talks. I would not have been told yesterday that we want to raise this issue had it been taken up earlier," he told Asian News International (ANI) when asked that India had taken up Captain Kalia's case with Pakistan earlier.

"I condole his death. I feel sorry for his father from the bottom of my heart. I will investigate about it when I go back. I will acquire information on it. We will definitely reply to the report since the issue has now come bilaterally," he added.

Malik, who had come under sharp criticism from the India media over his remark that Captain Kalia may have died because of the harsh weather, further reiterated that he did not know about the case in detail for it was not raised bilaterally earlier.

"When I entered here, one female journalist fired this question on me that you should apologise on behalf of the Pakistani Army on the issue of Captain Kalia. I was not aware of the matter. It is a 15-year-old incident. I knew a little about it. I had read about it. I said whatever I knew. I said that I do not know about it in detail and that this issue was not raised bilaterally," said Malik.

"When I sad that I do not know much, I would tell about it after going back. The lady questioned me again. I then said that I cannot tell whether he died because of the Pakistani bullet or because of the harsh weather. I am saying this even now. I am not insulting anybody because I do not know. Later, I called Pakistan to know about the incident. It was for the first time yesterday that the Indian Government told me that we raise this issue before you," he added.

Malik had earlier on Friday said that he came to know about Captain Kalia's case very recently, and added that it is not known whether he was killed with the Pakistani bullet or he died because of the harsh weather.

The Supreme Court yesterday issued notice to the Centre and sought response within ten weeks on a petition filed by Captain Kalia's father Dr N.K. Kalia.

Sympathizing with the agony of Captain Kalia's father, the apex court said that it would examine whether it can direct the government to raise this issue at the international forum before passing such an order.

It, however, said that the Centre is free to raise the issue on its own before any international forum. The bench then issued notice to Ministry of Defence, Home Affairs and External Affairs and sought their response within 10 weeks.

Captain Kalia's father has filed a petition before the UN Human Rights Commission demanding justice for his son, who was allegedly captured and brutally killed by the Pakistani Army during the war in 1999.

Dr. Kalia, a retired scientist, has in his petition to the apex court earlier contended that the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) should ask International Court of Justice (ICJ) to expose the 'torture' that resulted in the death of Captain Kalia and his fellow soldiers.

He has also asked the Indian Government to get Pakistan to apologise for the incident that went against all norms of the Geneva Convention related to incidents of war and capture of military personnel.

Dr Kalia, who has been shuttling from Ministry of Defence (MOD) to Army headquarters and the Ministry of External Affairs, and to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) for the past 13 years, wants the Indian Government to exert pressure on Pakistan to identify and punish those Pakistani soldiers who indulged in the barbaric torture of his son Captain Kalia.

Immediately after getting commissioned into the 4-Jat Regiment of the Indian Army, Captain Saurabh Kalia was posted in the Kargil area.

In May 1999, Captain Kalia had gone out on patrol duty in Kaksar area of Kargil along with five other soldiers - Sepoys Arjunram Baswana, Mula Ram Bidiasar, Naresh Singh Sinsinwar, Bhanwar Lal Bagaria and Bhika Ram Mudh. They were caught by the Pakistan Army, which kept them in captivity for over 22 days and subjected to brutal torture as evident from their bodies handed over by the Pakistan Army on June 9, 1999.

Parts of their body were burnt with cigarettes, eyes were gouged out before puncturing, teeth and bones were broken and various limbs and private organs of these soldiers were chopped off.