A day after India gave Pakistan details of two men who guided four terrorists to an Army camp in Uri where 18 soldiers were killed on September 18, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) said it had discovered inaccuracies in biographical details of the two men.
NIA Inspector General Alok Mittal said Faisal Husain Awan, who was identified in a Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) note given to Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit as a resident of Potha Jahangir in Muzaffarabad, is now recorded to be a resident of Halka 4 in Potha Jandgran near the village of Koomi Kote.
The second individual, identified in the MEA document as Yasin Khursheed, son of Mohammed Khurshid of Khiliana Kalan, was named by Mittal as Ahsan Khursheed, son of Chaudhury Khursheed of Mohalla Kidri in the village of Khilayana Khurd in Muzaffarabad’s Hattian Bala tehsil.
Sources said the initial details were based on biographical information obtained while the men were in custody from September 20 to 26.
MEA spokesperson Vikas Swaroop told The Indian Express that the suspects’ personal particulars were based on their statements to investigators.
“There is obviously no way Indian investigators immediately verify these details on-ground in that part of Kashmir illegally occupied by Pakistan,” Swaroop said, “which is precisely why we shared the information with that country, and offered it consular access. We have absolutely nothing to hide.”
Faisal Awan’s hamlet, Potha Jandgran, is on an earth road leading out from the village of Chhatter, half an hour’s drive south of Muzaffarabad.
Ahsan Khursheed’s village lies in the jurisdiction of Chinari police station, half an hour’s drive from the Kaman Post on the Line of Control.
The MEA’s statement Tuesday said the men had been caught by local residents and handed over to the Army, an account also corroborated by Uri residents.
NIA officers said they were still working to verify the particulars of the testimony.
“A lot will depend on whether technical experts are able to obtain data from the damaged Global Positioning System set we have salvaged from the encounter site,” an investigator said, “which we can then tally with the suspects’ accounts to see if it is credible”.
The men, a source familiar with the investigation said, had frequently changed their account, first telling villagers who caught them that they had accidentally strayed across the Line of Control.
Later, though, the men gave varying accounts to interrogators. In one account, they claimed they had crossed the Line of Control on September 20, after the Uri attack.
And then, while speaking to a doctor who treated them for injuries at the barracks where they were held in Srinagar, the men claimed to have been part of the Uri terror squad itself, saying they had set alight tents with troops asleep in them using three LPG cylinders, the source said.
An NIA spokesperson said the two men had been brought to Delhi for further interrogation. “They have been remanded to 10 days’ police custody, up to October 7,” the spokesperson said.