The journalists Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark an award-winning investigative journalist in their book comprising 500 pages put on sale from 1st May 2012 “The Meadow: Kashmir 1995 — Where the Terror Began” claim theWesterners were murdered by a group of Kashmiri militants who worked for the Indian Army. The book was released on March 29 in England .
The adventurers and nature lovers across the globe, envy to see Kashmir a paradise on earth. But for one group of travellers in 1995, a trip to the Meadow became a nightmare that none of them could possibly have imagined. These men - two Americans, two Britons, a German and a Norwegian - journeyed to Kashmir in search of nature and humanity – but became entangled in a hostage drama that lasted for six months before they vanished from the face of the earth leaving their loved ones and family in agony for rest of their life. The conclusions in the book are drawn through investigations based on the interviews with police officials then investigating the case and the wives and girlfriends of the missing men. It reveals how the Kashmir hostage crisis was an opening shot in the war on terror; what these terrorists did to a group of western adventurers and set them on a cold-hearted path to terrorise the West.
A review of the book “In the Meadow, A chilling alternate view of the 1995 Kashmiri kidnappings” published in NY Times discussed the kidnappings of six foreign tourists in a meadow in Kashmir by a group calling itself Al Faran. The Indian government, Indian Intelligence agencies and Indian Military prolonged their capture and sabotaged negotiations with the kidnappers which resulted in the killing of the hostages. This was later discovered that it was an Indian conspiracy to put the blame on Pakistan and its intelligence agencies afterwards for the killing and kidnapping of the tourists. However, upon investigation it was learned that the men were killed by another group, funded and controlled by the Indian government(See salients from the book below). However, India has always tried to deceive its own people, region/neighbors and the world as a whole .The TRUTH can only be blurred but never hidden. Few examples from recent history are as under:-
- On night between February 17-18, 2007 at least 68 people, mostly Pakistanis, were killed in a series of explosions and a resultant fire on Pakistan-bound train in the northern Indian state of Haryana, near Panipat, about 80km north of Delhi. Initial investigations blamed the Pakistan-based LeT (Lashkar-e-Tayaba) and JeM (Jaish-e-Muhammad), so much so a Pakistan national, Azmat Ali, was also arrested in this connection…Later it was found by the police that right-wing Hindu activists and an Indian army officer Colonel Prohit had a significant role in not only the Samjhauta Express bombing but also in the Malegaon and other similar terrorist incidents. The confessions of Swami Aseemanand have now further confirmed the Hindutvaradicals’ role in terrorism.
- In the Makkah Masjid blast on May 18, 2007, 14 people were killed and as a reaction around 80 Muslims were initially rounded up by the police. The bombs are believed to have contained a deadly mix of RDX and TNT, in proportions often used by the Indian army.” CBI director Ashwani Kumar told the media that an activist named Sunil Joshi“played a key role in orchestrating the Ajmer blast and a set of mobile SIM cards that had been used in activation of the bomb-triggers in the Makka Masjid blast was used again in the Ajmer blast. ..India’s National Investigating Agency (NIA) filed a case in a court accusing 11 Hindus and members of the ultra-right-wing Sanathan Sanstha, of masterminding and executing the October 2009 Margao blast.
- In Ajmer Sharif Blast on October 11, 2007 ,3 people died. In 2010, Rajasthan ATS arrests Devendra Gupta, Chandrashekhar and Vishnu Prasad. Initial arrests of Abdul Hafiz Shamim, Khushibur Rahman, Imran Ali linked to HuJI, LeT could not be proved. Again in Malegaon 2ndBlasts in September 2008 in which 7 died Pragya Singh Thakur, Lt Col Srikant Purohit and Swami Amritanand Dev were found involved.
This shows a glimpse of investigation handling in India however more can be understood by a statement of Mumbai advocate Mihir who said: “It is believed that CBI is seeking directions from the home ministry to see the Ajmer, Makkah Masjid, Malegaon and other blasts in conjunction, after there has been no conclusive evidence of the involvement of Islamic groups”.
Source: This is how India shine, read here
- India has always had hegemonic approach towards its neighbours and its goodwill gestures have mostly concluded with economic or militarily strangulating projects for the neighbours. May it be the construction of a barrage at Farakka, near the border with Bangladesh or Wullhar Barrage over River Jhelum to dry up the water resources for its neighbours.
- Pakistan is locked in other territorial disputes with India such as the Siachen Glacier, Sir Creek and construction of dams including Baglihar Dam built over the River Chenab in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. Similarly China, Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka all have host of problems leading to mistrust in neighbours relationship.
- India has redrafted its military doctrine on building border infrastructure as a force multiplier in a real war situation. Indian Army Chief’s statement of taking on both Pakistan and China simultaneously through its cold start doctrine is an announced policy.
Source: Who is attacking Balochistan? Read here
The world as a whole:
- One of the Worlds biggest Glacier reservoir are depleting fast. Blaming only global warming for rapid defrosting is a false impression being created deliberately by India with a view to covering up the serious and catastrophic environmental crime its army is committing. It leaves not even an iota of doubt that the rapid shrinkage of the Siachen Glacier is due to chemical and explosive storage and cutting of glacial ice by the Indian army and not by global warming.
- Indian troops are involved in dumping of chemicals, metals, organic and human waste, and daily leakages of 2,000 gallons of kerosene oil. This oil passes through 250 kilometre of a plastic pipeline, laid by the Indian army across the glacier.
- The global environment and human rights experts and activists may realise one day that they have stains of this blood on their ignorance and not putting enough pressure on Pakistan and India to demilitarise the glacier.
- The glimpse of misguided investigation handling by India quoted above is worth noting. Wendy Sherman US Under Secretary of state announced in New Delhi on April 02,2012 that the US had put a bounty of US $10 million on Hafiz Muhammad Saeed a leader of Pakistan based social welfare organization Jama’at-ud-Da’wah(JuD) to please India.. Despite India’s investigation record and fact that Pakistani courts has acquitted Hafiz Saeed on many occasions and in many cases due to lack of evidences against him. On October 12, 2009, the Lahore High Court quashed all cases against Hafiz Muhammad Saeed and set him free. The court also notified that Jama’at-ud-Da’wah is not a banned organization and can work freely in Pakistan. Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, one of two judges hearing the case, observed “In the name of terrorism we cannot brutalise the law. But somehow india has succeeded in hiding reality.
See detailed study here
It is very much evident from the facts revealed in the book and above mentioned facts that in order to get psychological benefits, India has always remained indulged in dirty games. Either this benefited India or not but it gave a massive blow to humanity. India contributes in making future of this world bleak. Therefore it is the responsibility of analysts, social workers and environmentalists to take notice of these psychological wars that India has waged against not just its neighbors but against the whole world .
Review of Book “The Meadow: Kashmir 1995 — Where the Terror Began”
A Srinagar based human rights group has requested the region’s State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) to investigate the circumstances surrounding the kidnapping and subsequent killing of four western tourists by a militant group in 1995 in Indian-controlled Kashmir.
The journalists Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark in their book put on sale from 1st May 2012 “The Meadow: Kashmir 1995 — Where the Terror Began” claim that the four Westerners were murdered by a group of Kashmiri militants who worked for the Indian Army. They came to the conclusion after their investigations based on the interviews with police officials then investigating the case. The book was released on March 29 in England.
The book contains 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 said, they were being watched and photographed by an Indian Army helicopter.
Rather than working for the hostages’ release, the Indian government, Indian intelligence agencies and Indian military prolonged their capture and sabotaged negotiations with the kidnappers, a new non-fiction book called “The Meadow” alleges. Indian officials’ actions were part of a larger plan to present Pakistan, and the Pakistan-backed insurgency in Kashmir, in as harsh a light as possible to the world at large, the book says. Ultimately, the men were killed by a second group, funded and controlled by the Indian government, the book alleges.
“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,” one police detective who worked on the case tells the authors.
Quoting the Kashmir police’s crime branch squad, the two authors write that the investigators had been convinced that the Government-controlled renegades had the control of four Westerners after Al Faran dropped them.
“The squad reported some of its thoughts to its seniors, using these kinds of words, ‘Sikander’s men handed over Paul, Dirk, Keith and Don to Alpha’s renegades in the third of fourth week of November, around the time when the final sightings dried up. Sikander has given up. Al Faran is finished. Embarrassingly, India controls the renegades.’”
Adrian Levy told in a interview to NYT that “We also determined the exact route taken by the kidnappers, and followed that route, through Anantnag, and over in Kishtwar and the Warwan Valley, interviewing hundreds of villagers over the years, staying in Sukhnoi where we learned from villagers, and then the IB and the J&K police, the hostages had been deliberately penned in for 11 weeks approximately, while they were observed in detail and near daily, by an Indian helicopter.”
Inspector General Rajinder Tikoo (who led the negotiations with the kidnappers) confirmed it to Adrian that the sabotaging of the talks and that intelligence did not want there to be a resolution. He resigned as a result from the inquiry. He then had no part to play and does not express a view of the ending.
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.” Authors claim that “The kidnapping was a boon that enabled the Indian intelligence fraternity to clearly demonstrate Pakistan backed terror and demonize Kashmiri aspirations.”
“Right from the beginning the strings were being pulled from New Delhi,” said Altaf Ahmed, a police security official who worked with the security adviser to the government of Kashmir.“Those of us dealing with the hostage-taking on the ground in Srinigar were not in control.”
On Christmas Eve, 1995, the four remaining hostages were walked into heavy, deep snow behind the lower village of Mati Gawran, shot and buried, an eyewitness to the killings said, the book reports.
“There was only one end for them, and we all knew it,” he said. “No one could risk the hostages being released and complaining of collusion, having seen uniforms and STF jeeps,” he said. (STF is the Special Task Force of police in Kashmir).
The book’s claims echo some of the darkest fears brewing in the international intelligence community after the hostages, or their bodies, failed to surface month after month.
Almost a year after they were taken, the fate of the hostages was still uncertain, despite diplomatic appeals and secret military operations from the United States, United Kingdom and Germany, The New York Times reported.
“So far none of these efforts have come close to ending the drama, whose ambiguities and illusions and hopes deceived have baffled a succession of anti-terrorism experts sent by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and by Scotland Yard,” John F. Burns wrote from Kashmir in May of 1996. He writes:
Nobody can even be sure whether the kidnappers, who call themselves Al Faran, are real insurgents or, as many better known Kashmiri guerrillas assert, are Indian-backed renegades who have set out to discredit the entire movement.
“There are many bizarre things about this entire business,” a senior diplomat said. But the diplomat added that India, while gaining politically from the bruising that the hostage-taking had given to the image of Pakistan and to the insurgents, had nonetheless dealt honestly in attempts to free the men.
Still, the diplomat added, “there are cross-currents here that have troubled us deeply.”
The rights body International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian-administered Kashmir (IPTK) and Association of Parents of Disappeared (APDP) has asked SHRC to direct Government to make the report public. “As a part of the ongoing work on the issue of nameless and unmarked graves in Indian- controlled Kashmir, we request SHRC that the case of the four kidnapped persons be considered,” said Khuram Parvez, member IPTK.
On July 4, 1995 during a trekking expedition at tourist destination Phalgam, four foreigners – Don Hutchings of USA, Keith Mangan of England, Paul Wells of England and John Childs of USA were kidnapped by a lesser known militant group Al-Faran, believed to be an offshoot of Harkat-ul-Ansar.
On July 8, 1995 two more trekkers Dirk Hasert of Germany and Hans Christian Ostro of Norway were kidnapped from the same area. However, the fate of four tourists remained a mystery.
Childs escaped on July 8, 1995 and Ostro’s beheaded body was found on Aug. 13, 1995 in the Shael Dar forest of Anantnag District.
The book also claims that a western female trekker had approached the Indian army camp in Pahalgam to say she had witnessed the kidnapping of Dirk Hasert. “Instead of assisting her, a Major of the Indian army sexually assaulted her,” mentions the book.
The IPTK has also sought investigation against then Inspector General of Kashmir Zone, P S Gill, and then Superintendent of Police of Anantnag, Ashkoor Wani to inquire into their role in the alleged manipulation of the DNA tests of one of the hostages.
An official at SHRC said they have received the application on Friday and clubbed it with unmarked graves case. “The case has been listed for hearing before the division bench of the Commission on April 17,2012″ the official said.
Rights group seeks details of foreigner kidnappings in Indian-controlled Kashmir, http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-04/07/c_131512490.htm
India-backed gang behind killings of 4 Western tourists in 1995, http://www.aaj.tv/2012/04/india-backed-gang-behind-killings-of-4-western-tourists-in-1995/
In ‘The Meadow,’ a Chilling Alternate View of the 1995 Kashmiri Kidnappings, http://india.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/13/in-the-meadow-a-chilling-alternate-view-of-the-1995-kashmiri-kidnappings/?pagemode=print
Did ‘India-backed’ militants kill 4 foreign tourists in Kashmir in ’95?, http://www.asianage.com/print/139760
Book claims Western tourists were killed by pro-govt gunmen, http://www.greaterkashmir.com/news/2012/Apr/4/book-claims-western-tourists-were-killed-by-pro-govt-gunmen-45.asp
A Conversation With : ‘The Meadow’ Author Adrian Levy, ttp://india.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/13/a-conversation-with-the-meadow-author-adrian-levy/?pagemode=print