New Delhi: India on Friday called off the proposed foreign minister-level talks with Pakistan in New York following the abduction and killing of three Jammu and Kashmir police personnel. Any talks with Pakistan will be meaningless as the neighbour would not mend its ways, India said.

Bilateral ties between the Asian rivals have thus returned to status quo after briefly promising to take a positive turn when India on Thursday accepted Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s suggestion that the foreign ministers of the two countries can meet on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly being held from 18 September to 5 October.

The meeting was to take place between India’s external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and her Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

Two “deeply disturbing" events took place since Thursday, the external affairs ministry said. These were the “brutal killings of our security personnel by Pakistan-based entities and the recent release of a series of 20 postage stamps by Pakistan glorifying a terrorist and terrorism", it said, referring to Burhan Wani who was killed in 2016.

Hizbul Mujahideen commander Riyaz Naikoo claimed responsibility for the attack in which terrorists abducted and killed two special police officers (SPO) and a constable of the state police, in Kashmir’s Shopian district.

The police personnel have been identified as Firdous Ahmad Kuchey, Kuldeep Singh and Nisar Ahmad Dhobi. The abductions come just two days after the Hizbul Mujahideen circulated a video threatening to kill all Kashmiris who did not resign from the state police force in four days.

Soon after the killing, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti said on Twitter, “Three more policemen have lost their lives to militant bullets. Outrage, shock & condemnation will be expressed by all of us on expected lines. Unfortunately, it brings no solace to the families of the victims. Clearly, with the rise in kidnapping of police personnel and their families, the Centre’s muscular policy is not working at all. Dialogue, the only way forward, seems to be a distant dream for now." Imran Khan has a “fairly clear level" of military backing and could be a “wonderful face" for peace or an “effective voice for hostility" depending on what the army wants, news agency PTI said quoting Congress leader Shashi Tharoor.

The Union home ministry rubbished rumours of police personnel resigning following the attack, while asserting that it was actively fighting militancy in the Valley.

“There are over 30,000 SPOs and their services are reviewed from time to time. Some mischievous elements are trying to project that those SPOs whose services are not renewed due to administrative reasons, have resigned. Militants are on the back foot in Jammu and Kashmir. As many as 28 militants have been neutralized this year in Shopian alone. Because of the pro-active actions of J&K police, militants have been pushed to a corner and are being driven to desperation," said a home ministry spokesperson.

Experts, however, said that while this shift in tactic by the terrorists had come about suddenly, it was not something that should catch security forces by surprise.

“Terrorists keep changing their strategies, so when the police hone in on their relatives, they strike in the same coin. It is a kind of tactic which has been used before also. There are no rules in insurgency and this is a form of retaliation for the terrorists," said Lt. Gen (retd) H.S. Panag, a former Indian Army official and defence expert.

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