(Update 1: Adds Pakistan reaction)
New Delhi/Islamabad, June 16 (efe-epa).- India on Tuesday accused Pakistan of “kidnapping and torturing” two of its diplomats, in a claim that Islamabad has “categorically” rejected.
While India said the alleged abduction of the two embassy staffers on Monday was an “egregious violation” of the Vienna Convention, Pakistan said the two officials were involved in a “hit-and-run” incident and possession of fake currency.
“The Charge d’ Affaires of the High Commission of Pakistan, Haider Shah, was summoned today and a strong protest lodged on the issue of the abduction and torture of two officials of the High Commission of India in Islamabad by Pakistan security agencies,” the Indian foreign ministry said in a statement.
According to India, the two diplomatic employees were “forcibly abducted” by the agencies in Islamabad on Monday while they were traveling in a vehicle that was “extensively damaged,” and later kept in “illegal custody” for more than 10 hours.
The statement said both the diplomats were freed only after a “strong intervention” of the High Commission and the Indian foreign ministry, without providing further details.
The statement claimed that the two officials were “subjected to interrogation, torture and physical assault resulting in grievous injuries to them” and that they were “video-graphed and coerced” to accept “a litany of fictitious allegations and concocted charges.”
Pakistan rejected the allegations as “baseless”.
“The two officials, Dwimu Brahma and Selvadas Paul were over-speeding and crashed their car into a pedestrian,” the Pakistan foreign ministry said in a statement.
The pedestrian, it said, was seriously injured and taken to a hospital for treatment.
The officials allegedly tried to flee from the scene but were caught by some passersby before the police took them away.
“During the investigation, the fake currency was also recovered from the (Indian) officials. After it was confirmed that the said officials were from the Indian High Commission, they were released and handed over to a senior diplomat from India.”
The incident comes after India on May 31 expelled two officials of the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi after briefly arresting them and accusing them of spying.
The expulsion of each other’s diplomats has been a frequent action for both the governments, which have witnessed a high level of tensions for decades.
Bilateral ties between the two neighbors have deteriorated further since last year after their air forces carried out cross-border bombings and strikes on each other’s territory in February during the worst military escalation in more than a decade.
Then in August, the Indian government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided to suspend the semi-autonomous status of Kashmir, a region disputed between the two sides, and divide it into two union territories directly administered from New Delhi.
The decision led to a furious reaction from Pakistan, which expelled the Indian high commissioner and suspended bilateral trade. Since then, both the country’s high commissions in each other’s territories have functioned without ambassadors, with the deputy high commissioners remaining in charge.
The two nuclear powers have fought three wars and multiple minor conflicts over Kashmir since the partition of the subcontinent by the British at the time of relinquishing their colonial control in 1947. EFE-EPA