Announcing the arrest of two Pakistani nationals affiliated to banned militant outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba, General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the Army’s 15 Corps Lt Gen K J S Dhillon said Wednesday that a “desperate” Pakistan was pushing infiltrators into the Valley to carry out “terrorist activities”.
Addressing a joint press conference with ADG (Law and Order) Munir Khan in Srinagar, one month after the Centre scrapped Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and bifurcated the state into two Union Territories, Lt Gen Dhillon said the Army arrested two Pakistan-based Lashkar militants from the Gulmarg sector on August 21.
At the press conference, Khan confirmed that an 18-year-old Kashmiri boy, who was injured in clashes with security forces last month, died at a Srinagar hospital early Wednesday. The death prompted the J&K administration to reimpose daytime restrictions in most parts of the city.
“There are desperate attempts on Pakistan’s part after August 5.in one such attempt on August 21, we apprehended two Pakistani nationals. Two Pakistan citizens who belong to proscribed terrorist outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba were apprehended alive by the Indian Army,” said Lt Gen Dhillon.
The Army also played confessional videos of the two men arrested, who were seen saying that they are affiliated to Lashkar. While one identified himself as Mohammed Nazim, the other said his name was Mohammed Khalil. They claimed to be residents of Rawalpindi in Pakistan. Lt Gen Dhillon said the Indian Army has already conveyed information about the two arrests to DGMO Pakistan.
“These two videos clearly show how Pakistan, the Pakistani army and citizens of Pakistan are being pushed into the Kashmir Valley to undertake terrorist activities inside the Kashmir Valley to disrupt the peace which is prevailing especially after August 5,” he said.
Responding to a question about militant launchpads across the Line of Control (LoC), Lt Gen Dhillon said Pakistan is attempting “every night and day” to push militants across. “Even these two terrorists who have been captured, they were also housed at the Pakistani forward post of the army and then they were being guided by Pakistani regular troops up to the LoC,” he said.
Dhillon also said the last 30 days were the “calmest period in the history of Kashmir”. “There is not a single casualty… Calmest and most peaceful 30 days from the point of civilians’ deaths by the security forces or anyone. All the deaths that have happened have happened by the terrorists or the stone pelters,” he said.
While ADG Munir Khan said the administration has ensured no civilian casualties over the last month, the J&K administration said all landlines in the Valley will be restored by Wednesday night. Deputy Commissioner of Srinagar, Shahid Iqbal Choudhary tweeted: “Most telephone exchanges to be functional tonight across Valley. Mobiles being restored gradually, already buzzing in Kupwara. Thanks for patience and regrets for inconvenience.”
According to ADG Khan, 18-year-old Asrar Firdous Khan was injured near Soura on the outskirts of Srinagar when he was among locals staging a protest on August 6, a day after the Centre moved to scrap the state’s special status.
While the J&K police said he was hit by a stone, hospital documents accessed by The Indian Express show pellets injuries as well. His family, too, said he was injured by pellets on August 6.
“He was reportedly injured with a blunt object in a law and order situation where a violent crowd was indulging in stone pelting,” J&K DGP Dilbag Singh told Reuters. According to Reuters, Singh said some protesters had said Khan had been hit by a tear gas canister, though authorities suspected he may have been hit by a stone thrown by protesters.
Critically wounded, Asrar then was immediately shifted to nearby the Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) and admitted to the ICU. After 29 days, Asrar succumbed early Wednesday. Hospital records show Asrar as an 18-year-old while his family claimed he was only 17, studying in Class 9.
ADG Munir Khan said, “Who told you that he was injured in shelling?… no shelling no pellet injuries. He was hit by a stone and I am very sure about it,” said Munir Khan. Asked if he would release Asrar’s medical records, he said police will investigate the case.
“As far as the death of Mr Asrar is concerned, he was injured on August 6. There was stone pelting… and stone pelters from Soura, Aanchar and other places had assembled and there was a major law and order situation. On the day he got injured, he was admitted in SKIMS. He improved a bit, but somehow he succumbed,” he said.
“In any case, where death or injury has occurred, an FIR has been registered. So when an investigation takes places, everything is taken into consideration including medical reports. So in this particular case also, it will be done. We will investigate…and we will get the medical report to substantiate what we are saying.”
The family of Asrar said ADG Khan had made a “false statement”. Asrar’s father Firdous Ahmad Khan said: “He was hit by pellets and was admitted in Soura since August 6.”
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