‘Army raped informant woman, delayed action till 5 foreigners were killed’
American book on Al-Faran hostages provides fresh fuel to Kashmiri separatists
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
“The Meadow” claims to be based on years of research and hundreds of interviews by authors, Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark, who worked in
On July 4th, 1995, an unknown guerrilla group calling itself ‘Al-Faran’ claimed kidnapping of six tourists in Lidder valley, near Pahalgam, in south-east
A note released by the kidnappers a day after the kidnappings said: 'Accept our demands or face dire consequences. We are fighting against anti-Islamic forces. Western countries are anti-Islam, and
The kidnappers demanded release of the jailed Pakistani militant, Maulana Masood Azhar, and 20 other prisoners. Several national and international organisations issued appeals to Al-Faran to release the tourists. Representatives of the embassies of the victims' countries also visited
In December 1995, the kidnappers left a note that they were no longer holding the men hostage. They claimed that the hostages had got killed when the Indian troops engaged their kidnappers in a gunbattle.
As months of search, subsequently joined also by Scotland Yard and FBI, yielding nothing, one of the detained masons, Nazir Ahmad of Dabran, revealed to his interrogators in May 1996 that Mangan, Wells, Hutchings, and Hasert had been gunned down and buried by the kidnappers near Mati Gawran village in Kokernag. According to his statement, Harkatul Ansar’s local commander Javed Dabrani and Hameed Turki got killed in an encounter between the Indian Army and militants in close vicinity of their hideout on December 13th, 1995. He claimed that immediately after the death of the commanders, HUA militants gunned down all the four hostages and got them buried. Nazir led then IGP Kashmir, P S Gill, and other Police officers to the area but failed to identify the ‘spot of burial’.
Published after 16 years, “The Meadow” alleges that the Indian officials’ actions were part of a larger plan to present
“All the time New Delhi said it was trying to crack Al Faran, a group within intelligence and the STF (Special Task Force, an Indian Police division) was letting them dangle, happy to let the militants portray themselves as savage criminals,” a Police investigator, who worked on the case, is claimed to have told the authors. He remains unidentified.
The book contains purportedly the blow-by-blow descriptions of the negotiations for the hostages’ release between an inspector and the kidnappers, which seemed to be nearly completed several times, only to be blown apart when the agreed terms of the negotiations were leaked to newspapers, including the Hindustan Times, infuriating the kidnappers. At times when the Indian government claimed the kidnappers and their hostages were untraceable, the book says, they were being watched and photographed by an Indian Army helicopter.
A member of the Crime Branch team who worked on the case describes the “dawning realization that their desire to solve the crime was at odds with the goals of some senior figures in the military and the intelligence services, who could have saved the hostages but chose not to.”
The book points fingers at the central government. An official of the Security Wing of J&K Police then working with Governor K V Krishna Rao’s Advisor Security, who has been identified in the book as Altaf Ahmad is quoted to have told the authors: “Right from the beginning the strings were being pulled from
Valley’s separatist circles and groups claiming to be working for human rights could, on the other hand, set off a fresh hullabaloo over contents of the book, particularly the allegations of rape and the government agencies stage managing a theatre to discredit