The Pakistan Army’s Special Services Group (SSG), through its Border Action Team (BAT), is alleged to have carried out the 8 January brutal mutilation of two Indian soldiers at the Mendhar Sector in Jammu’s Poonch district. Earlier, on 1 August 2011, BAT, stormed inside Kupwara’s 19 Rajput Battalion and beheaded four Indian soldiers. The Indian heads were taken to the other side. The incident took place a week after the India-Pakistan talks. According to Indian Army sources, the SSG BAT embalmed the heads to keep them as trophies.

SSG is an elite special operations force, where former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf served. It has under its command jihadis belonging to the Lashkar-e-Taiba, which it uses to carry out operations against India.

The SSG is equivalent to the Indian Para Special Forces. Its motto is “Fear is no policy and surrender is no option.” The SSG, also called Black Storks, is meant for special operations mostly along the Indo-Pak border and even outside Pakistan. They boast of the 1999 Kargil conflict, besides the Afghan operations, 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak wars.

According to a source, “The SSG controls the one-million strong highly trained LeT as its irregular force. If these men are caught the Pakistan Army can always disown them. So it suits them to use them. The command and control of this force are with the SSG, and they are sent across the border based on intelligence inputs, like what happened on 8 January in Mendhar.”

The SSG commandos wear maroon berets, much like the Indian Special Forces, and black outfits. The SSG commandos carry out special surgical operations based on intelligence inputs.

Raised initially by converting the 19 Baloch regiment, the SSG has under its charter asymmetric and unconventional warfare, foreign internal defence, counter-terrorism, special operations and direct action.

Musharraf served in the SSG from 1966-72 and was Company Commander of an SSG Commando battalion. SSG also played a major role in waging the Kargil conflict, which Musharraf’s brainchild. SSG has also been active in Siachen.

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