On Wednesday, at Udhampur, in Jammu and Kashmir, a terrorist was overpowered and held by the villagers he had allegedly taken hostage. The incident happened just hours after terrorists had attacked a Border Security Force convoy travelling down the Jammu-Srinagar highway 10 kilometres away. Two soldiers were killed and 10 injured. In the exchange of fire that followed, one attacker was killed and two others reportedly melted away into the nearby woods.
According to an NDTV report, one of the terrorists took hostages in a nearby village and sought directions at gunpoint. While stopping for food, “we got together, forced him to the ground and overpowered him”, one of the villagers he had taken hostage said.
The Jammu and Kashmir police initially said he was called Usman Khan, a resident of Faisalabad in Pakistan. In a preliminary interrogation that was caught on tape, he told the police that they had entered India from Pakistan 12 days ago, “through the jungles”. Their food supplies had run out three days ago so they had broken into a house for more.
A Press Trust of India report said that he had initially claimed to be in his early twenties but later said that he was only 16. He had been changing his statements. First he identified himself as Kasim and later as Usman. Intelligence officials claim that these changing statements are part of a ploy to create confusion and that terrorists are trained to claim claim to be below 18 years so that they are tried as juveniles.
An IBN Live report later quoted intelligence officials, who said that further interrogation had revealed the terrorist’s real name was “Mohammad Naved” and he is believed to be a Lashkar-e-Toiba operative. He had reportedly crossed over with at least four other LeT terrorists and the group had then split into two, intelligence officials reportedly said. One group had launched the attack at Dinanagar in Gurdaspur on July 27, they added. The other group, including Usman/ Mohammad, had reportedly waited to strike at another location. The captured terrorist reportedly said he had come to “murder Indians” and that he was motivated by revenge.
Meanwhile, according to another NDTV report, the Union home ministry and Intelligence Bureau claimed they had warned of a terror attack on the Udhampur highway two months ago and multiple advisories had been sent to the J&K police since May.
Commenting on Twitter, former J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said the attack was a “worrying development”, since Udhampur had been terror-free for a while.
An attack on this stretch of the NH after a very long time. Worrying development because area was militant free. https://t.co/F74uhpOLYS
— Omar Abdullah (@abdullah_omar) August 5, 2015
The incident has widely been called a “breakthrough” since terrorists are rarely captured alive. The last time it happened was after the terror attack at Bemina in Srinagar, in 2013, NDTV said. The PTI added that this is the first Pakistani terrorist to be captured alive after Ajmal Kasab, who was nabbed during the terror attack in Mumbai in 2008.