The Indian Army has arrested two Pakistani Class 10 students for allegedly assisting militants who attacked an Army camp in Jammu and Kashmir’s Uri sector on September 18, their families have claimed. They said the boys were arrested after they strayed across the Line of Control, reported The Indian Express. However, the Ministry of External Affairs said the two boys had confessed to helping “the group of four Jaish-e-Mohammad militants”.
Faisal Husain Awan, a resident of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir’s Potha Jandgran and his friend from school Ahsan Khursheed, a resident of Muzaffarabad’s Khilayana Khurd near Uri, were arrested on September 21.
Awan’s brother Ghulam Mustafa Tabassum, a Lahore-based physician, said the two were at home on September 17, the day National Investigation Agency said the militants crossed the Line of Control. Tabassum said, “I don’t want any controversy, which is why I hadn’t contacted the media. I can only hope someone powerful in India reads our story and sends these boys home.” The daily contacted Tabassum using details provided by the Indian authorities.
The boy’s school principal, Basharat Husain, described Awan as “a model student, respectful and friendly.” The boys are around 16 years old, according to documents provided by the school. This makes them minors and thus eligible for certain protections under the law.
In an email to the newspaper, an unidentified Army official said the two were “Pakistan-occupied Kashmir nationals who have been working for Jaish-e-Mohammad terror outfit.” The email said the information was based on evidence from “spot interrogation”. It reportedly did not respond to queries about their age though.
A National Investigation Agency spokesperson said “the age [of] the two was recorded as per statements given by them”, but did not confirm if they were minors. NIA officials said the boys had admitted to being involved in the attack, and that Awan had identified one of the militants.
Border residents, who had accosted the two students, told the English daily that the boys had initially denied any links with the attack and claimed to have strayed across the LoC. Hostilities between India and Pakistan intensified since the the attack on the Indian Army base. While India believes Pakistan was involved in the attack, Islamabad maintains that there is no evidence to support the accusation.