NEW DELHI: In a step to “reinstate the honour of a fallen enemy soldier”, the Indian Army has restored the grave of a decorated Pakistani officer killed during a clash along the Line of Control (LoC) almost half-a-century ago.
Major Mohd Shabir Khan was killed in a fierce clash with troops of the 9 Sikh Regiment in Naugam sector along the LoC on May 5, 1972. Pakistan awarded him its third highest military decoration, the ‘Sitara-e-Jurat’ medal, recognising his gallantry.
In keeping with the best military traditions, the 2 Maratha Light Infantry battalion of the Indian Army, which was later deployed in the forward location, had constructed a grave for the fallen Pakistani officer there.
“The grave had got badly damaged due to vagaries of weather and incessant shelling over time. The grave has now been restored. A fallen soldier, irrespective of the country he belongs to, deserves respect and honour in death. The Indian Army stands by this belief,” an officer said on Friday.
The Indian Army had treated the bodies of Pakistani soldiers with full respect during the Kargil conflict in 1999, though Islamabad sought to portray them as “irregulars” or militants. “We kept alive these ethics and values during Kargil. We returned the bodies of their soldiers whenever they were accepted by Pakistan. The rest were buried with proper honours,” said General V P Malik (retired), the then Army chief.
The restoration of the grave comes at a time when the 778-km long LoC is extremely volatile, with heavy cross-border shelling being exchanged between the two armies.