A Pakistani terrorist was apprehended alive by his hostages only hours after he, in cahoots with another militant, fired at a BSF convoy and killed two troopers on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway in Udhampur on Wednesday. Retaliatory firing took down the other terrorist, identified as Momin.
Far from being perturbed by his capture, Mohammad Naved presented a picture of calm, sometimes even happiness, in a video recorded just after he was overpowered. He seemed to be in a stupor of ecstasy rather than betraying even an iota of remorse.
“Kashmiris are being killed by India. I was told to take revenge, I came to kill Indians ,” said Naved, wearing a dark blue shirt and brown trousers.
On why they were targeting people and children in India, Naved told his audience: “There is fun in (doing) this.” Did he get money for this work? “I am motivated by revenge,” he added.
Naved claimed that he had crossed into India through Tangmarg nearly 12 days ago, walking all the way through the jungle. Asked if he used any mode of transport, he chuckled: “Where do you see a bus or train coming here?” Admitting to being a Pakistani, he revealed that they had finished their food in the first three days and then broke into a house for more.
Naved said only Momin was with him, but the BSF contested the claim and said at least two other terrorists were still at large. On his plans ahead, Naved said: “What plans now? You people have caught me. Had I been killed, it would have been Allah’s doing.” Captured terrorist Usman admits role in the attack
Some villagers, feeling enthusiastic over the prize catch, commented that Naved should have taken up honest work instead of spreading terror. “But you just have to kill,” prodded a villager. Naved uttered a simple “yes”.
He kept his interrogators guessing about his identity and age. He first claimed he was in his early 20s, but later said he was only 16. He identified himself as Kasim, Usman and Naved at various stages. This points to Lashkar-e-Taiba’s tactic of telling youngsters that if caught, they should claim to be below 18 so that they are tried as juveniles.
Earlier, Naved and Momin hurled grenades and fired on a BSF convoy, on its way to Srinagar from Jammu, near Nassu. The BSF soldiers were returning from leave and only two guards in the vehicle were armed. A militant was gunned down when he tried to enter the bus, BSF maintained.
The BSF said one of its constables, who was martyred in the encounter, displayed exemplary courage and shot Momin when he tried to enter the vehicle.
A batch of Amarnath pilgrims had an hour earlier crossed the stretch on the highway where the militants attacked the BSF convoy. The convoy of Amarnath yatris usually passes between 5.30 am and 6.30 am, while the attack took place at 7.30 am. Immediately after the encounter, vehicular movement on the Jammu-Srinagar highway was stopped and a search operation launched.
However, Naved escaped from the encounter site and held five persons captive in an empty school building in a nearby hamlet called Chirdhi, Udhampur deputy commissioner Shahid Iqbal Choudhary told media. The five hostages were Vikram Singh, Rakesh Sharma, Des Raj, Rakesh Kumar and Romesh Kumar. However, the last three soon managed to escape to safety.
Vikram and Rakesh Sharma overpowered the terrorist when Naved reportedly told them that he was hungry and wanted to eat something. He also wanted them to show him a route to flee the area. “We got together, jumped on him and wrestled him to the ground. Then we took away his gun. When he saw the police coming, he got unnerved and threatened us. But Rakesh caught his neck, I held on to his gun,” Vikram said.
No student was present in the school from where the terrorist was overpowered, the Udhampur deputy commissioner said. Former chief minister Omar Abdullah lauded the civilians for their courage. “Very brave of the unarmed civilians to wrestle & disarm an armed terrorist. They should be suitably rewarded for this bravery,” he tweeted.
Naved has been taken to the Udhampur police station, where the joint teams of the Centre and state security agencies are questioning him, sources said.
Naved has been identified as a resident of Ghulam Mohammadabad (Faisalabad) in Pakistan. He said his father is Mohammad Yakub and he has a sister and two brothers. One of the brothers deals in hosiery and the other is a lecturer at JC University in Pakistan. Momin belonged to Bahawalpur in Pakistan.