The Pakistani militant who was captured on Wednesday, only the second since the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, shortly after he and an accomplice killed two BSF men and wounded nearly a dozen soldiers by ambushing a convoy on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway in Udhampur.
Police officers said the militant from Pakistan’s Faisalabad, identified as Mohammed Naved, had sneaked into Jammu and Kashmir about 12 days ago along with Noman alias Momin, who was killed in retaliatory fire by BSF personnel. The slain militant was from Bahawalpur in Pakistan.
“I am from Pakistan and my partner was killed in the firing but I escaped. Had I been killed, it would have been Allah’s doing. There is fun in doing this … I came to kill Hindus,” said the suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba operative wearing a dark blue shirt and brown trousers.
A resident of Ghulam Mustafabad in Faisalabad, the militant believed to be in his early 20s has two brothers and one sister. One of them is a lecturer while the other runs a hosiery business.
Initially, Naved said he was in his early 20s but later changed his age to 16. “He has been changing statements. First he identified himself as Qasim and later as Usman Khan,” an officer said.
Read: J-K: Pak militant caught after attack on BSF convoy
This has been a tactic of the banned Lashkar group, sending youngsters to Jammu and Kashmir with the direction that in case they were caught, they should claim to be below 18 years so that they are tried as juveniles.
Naved became the second Pakistani militant to be captured alive during an operation after Ajmal Kasab, the 26/11 attacker who was subsequently convicted and hanged to death for the carnage in Mumbai that left 166 people dead.
An officer said the two Pakistani militants hiding in a maize field along the highway hurled grenades and fired at the convoy when it reached Samroli near Udhampur, about 85km from Jammu, on the way to Srinagar around 7.30am.
As the BSF personnel fired back, Naved fled towards a village in the hills and took three civilians hostage in a school.
One of the hostages, Rakesh Kumar, said they misled the armed militant when he asked them to take him to a safe place.
Another hostage, Vikramjit Singh, said the militant was hungry. “So we stopped. There we got together, forced him to the ground and unarmed him. He pleaded ‘mujhe mat pakdo, mujhe mat pakdo (Don’t catch me, don’t catch me)’ when we pinned him down and took away his AK-47.”
As he was brought down from the mountainous village bound by ropes, Naved looked hassled but smiled when he answered questions from journalists.
“My partner and I came to India through the jungles about 12 days ago … We ran out ration in three days. I was very hungry,” he said, before security personnel hooded his face and took him away.
The ambush was worrying for security forces as it followed the July 27 terrorist attack in Punjab’s Gurdaspur that left seven people dead and renewed firing by Pakistan Rangers from across the border in Jammu and Kashmir. The Gurdaspur attackers, too, were believed to be Pakistanis.
The Udhampur attack began a short while after a batch of pilgrims passed the spot on their way to the holy shrine of Amarnath.
The attack was a first on the Jammu-Udhampur stretch of the highway in over a decade and it came just hours after a woman was wounded in a fresh round of firing by Pakistan Rangers along border areas in Poonch.
(With inputs from agencies)