Within 24 hours of announcing that the Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers would meet next week in the US, the government today called off the talks, accusing Pakistan and its prime minister Imran Khan of “evil designs” after three policemen were kidnapped and killed by terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir. India is also furious over the release of 20 special stamps by Islamabad on the guise of solidarity with Kashmir, which glorify Burhan Wani, the Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist killed by security forces in 2016.
“The true face of Imran Khan has been exposed in his first few months in office,” said foreign ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar, adding that talks under the circumstances were “meaningless”.
Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and her Pakistan counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi were to meet in New York next week on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
New Delhi agreed to the talks on Imran Khan’s request to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but stressed that this did not mean resumption of dialogue between the neighbours, reasserting that “talks and terror cannot go together.”
Three policemen were dragged out of their homes in Kashmir’s Shopian early today by terrorists. The bodies of the policemen, all Special Police Officers, were found hours later in an orchard, riddled with bullets.
Two days ago, Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists had put out a video threatening to kill policemen unless they posted their resignations online.
The killings – along with the killing of a BSF soldier near the International Border on Tuesday – raised questions about whether it is the best time for talks with Pakistan.
The BSF jawan was found with his throat slit after he went missing when Pakistani Rangers fired at a patrol team clearing elephant grass in the area.
Even after the incident, the government had confirmed that in response to a letter from Imran Khan to PM Modi requesting the resumption of dialogue, it had decided to allow foreign minister talks in the US.
Today, the foreign ministry spokesperson said: “After Imran Khan’s letter, we thought Pakistan is moving towards positive change, a new beginning. But now it seems behind their proposal were evil intentions.”
Dialogue between India and Pakistan has been suspended since 2015 over a series of attacks, especially the terror attack on an army camp in Uri that left 19 soldiers dead. India later launched surgical strikes across the Line of Control to target Pakistani terror camps.
The opposition Congress targeted the government on its Pakistan policy after the killings. “On September 19, 2018, USA clearly stated that Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba are main contributors to terror, they are linked to Al-Qaeda,” said Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi. “The government has betrayed each and every part of Jammu and Kashmir. The mutilations are unspeakable horror,” he added.
The terrorists had kidnapped 10 people but seven were rescued by villagers who chased after them, the police said.
Soon after the killings, videos emerged of cops resigning on camera. The home ministry called them “false propaganda by mischievous elements.”
The home ministry says the killings as desperate fight-back because of the centre’s tough policy.