Over days of sustained questioning in Udhampur, Joint Interrogation Centre, Jammu, and now Srinagar, Pakistani terrorist Naveed’s interrogators have traced his journey from Rafique Colony, Ghulam Mohammadabad, in Khurrianwala tehsil of Faisalabad in Pakistan, to near Udhampur, where he was caught.
His father Mohammad Yaqoob is a manual labourer while his mother is a housewife. He dropped out of school after Class V because of the poverty at home, Naveed has told officials. “He started helping his parents in domestic chores.”
As per the interrogation report (IR), Naveed came in contact with the Lashkar in 2011, when in his early teens.
“He was motivated by one Bashir in Faisalabad to join Lashkar. He (Bashir) took him to a Lashkar office in Faisalabad. In the same year, he (Naveed) was taken to Gari Habibullah training camp of Lashkar where he underwent 21 days of training,” the IR says. “After completion of the training, he returned home. He was, however, in constant touch with Bashir who further motivated him to go to Muzaffarabad for three months arms training.”
According to the IR, “In August/ September 2014, he was taken to Shavai Nallah training camp of Lashkar, where he was given arms training for three months. He was imparted training in handling AK-47, pistol and grenade throwing.” At the end of the three months, the IR says, Naveed returned home and told his parents about the training.
Naveed speaks about his stay at the camp as if it was a school picnic, an official said. “Naveed talks and then suddenly gets disoriented and starts speaking about home.”
He appears to be a “teenager who doesn’t even understand the purpose of his near suicidal mission”, interrogators add. A senior officer who questioned him said Naveed was “happy to be alive” and feels “as if we are sending him home”.
The IR suggests Naveed was born in 1995, making him 20, though one of the officers who questioned him believes he might be a few years younger.
Naveed was summoned for the J&K operation in March 2015, says the IR. “He was called by Lashkar commanders to another camp, Forward Kahutta, and kept there till he was launched to J&K.”
The report says four Lashkar men in all were sent across, and Naveed knew the others only by their code names — Aqasha, Mohammad Bhai and Noman. The IR says the four crossed over in the Gulmarg sector, “right from Noori post”.
Said a senior officer, “Naveed told me the group walked for seven days before they reached Baba Reshi near Gulmarg. They crossed the Line of Control on June 3.”
Naveed has said a “Khurshid” acted as their guide to help cross the LoC and to take them to Baba Reshi. “Khurshid went back later.”
In Baba Reshi, the IR says, Naveed and the three other terrorists were received by “Commander Ubaid of Lashkar, who is also a Pakistani national, and on June 9, taken in a truck to Chursoo in Awantipora”.
The senior officer said the J&K Police had received a tip-off about a truck ferrying militants from Gulmarg area and on June 12 arrested a truck driver, Showkat, in whose vehicle the four allegedly travelled. “We picked him up and questioned him but he denied any knowledge. Naveed’s disclosure has confirmed (his involvement) now,” the officer said. The driver has since been held.
In Chursoo, the IR says, the four terrorists stayed at the house of brothers Fayaz Ahmad Wani and Javaid Ahmad Wani. Their house has been identified, and the two, who worked as carpenters at the Air Force Station in Awantipora, have been arrested. It is not clear yet whether the Wanis hosted Naveed and the others willingly or were forced.
The group stayed at Chursoo for two days, before being split. The IR says Naveed headed for Khrew, where the Lashkar’s alleged South Kashmir commander Abu Qasim, Doujana and Talha met him at a jungle hideout. “It is a cave turned into a hideout and this place has also been raided,” the senior officer said.
Naveed, as per the IR, told interrogators that “one Yasin from Khrew along with a few other youngsters would often visit their hideout with food and other supplies”, and that they kept in touch with their commanders “through Viber messaging service”.
Naveed stayed at the Khrew hideout for 45 days. “We have input that in between he accompanied Doujana to Jammu, but Naveed hasn’t confirmed it as yet,” the senior officer said.
From Khrew, the IR says, Naveed was taken to “Kakpora near Pulwama, where they met two local contacts — Mantri and Tanna (Tanvir) — who gave them logistical support”. Mantri and Tanna have also been held. “Tanna would ferry the militants around in his car,” the senior officer said.
“He (Tanna) took Doujana and Naveed to Srinagar. Naveed said he was dropped at a petrol pump at the entrance of Srinagar city where he saw a river on the other side of the road. He was dropped at Pathachowk. Tanna took Doujana to Lal Chowk where he collected 5 lakh rupees from somebody. We haven’t been able to identify the man who gave Doujana money as yet.”
Naveed, adds the IR, returned to Kakpora where he spent two days with an alleged local Lashkar militant, Talib, who was killed in an encounter recently. “Doujana then took Naveed to Khudwani in Kulgam district (south Kashmir). Though Naveed told us that he stayed in Riyaz’s house in Khudwani, we located the house and its owner is Fayaz Ahmad, who is a welder by profession. He had told us that their host’s wife is called Asiya and that is how we got to them. He too has been arrested,” the senior officer said. “In Fayaz’s house, Qasim told him he would soon meet Noman (who had crossed the LoC with him) again.”
At the time Naveed was sent to Khrew, Noman had allegedly been taken to Anantnag.
Naveed has told officers that Abu Qasim, Talha and another Lashkar militant, Hamza, came to Fayaz’s house and stayed there for six days. An alleged local Hizbul Mujahideen militant, Majid Zargar, reportedly also visited them.
According to the IR, “Qasim divulged the plan for an attack in Udhampur on August 3”. “Qasim also disclosed that Noman along with a truck and its driver, Setha, would reach Fayaz welder’s house tomorrow (August 4). After parking the truck a kilometre away from Fayaz’s house, they came to meet Qasim and Naveed,” the IR says. “Qasim briefed the two, Naveed and Noman, regarding the attack. Qasim gave one thousand rupees to Naveed and two thousand rupees to Noman for expenses.”
The senior officer who questioned Naveed said it was unclear why Udhampur was chosen. “Naveed said they had clear directions from Qasim not to attack any civilian vehicle but only a security force convoy,” the officer said.
According to the IR, Naveed and Noman left Khudwani at 1 pm in the truck on August 4. “While Setha was driving the truck, a ‘Khursheed’ was his conductor. At Ramban, Khursheed bought two bags for them. After tea at Ramban, they reached Tamatar morh (under police station Kud) at about 11 pm, where they prepared dinner and took rest till 3 am. On August 5, they left Tamatar morh at around 3.30 am and reached Narsoo Nallah, Sarmoli, where the truck driver dropped them near a dhaba. They took tea at the dhaba. At about 7 am, Noman saw a BSF convoy coming from Jammu side. They took out their AK-47 rifles and hand grenades and came out on either side of the road and opened fire at the convoy vehicles.”
The senior officer who questioned Naveed said Naveed saw Noman dying soon after, and panicked. “Noman had multiple injuries everywhere,” the officer said. “Naveed started running. Perhaps the reality of his new life dawned on him at that very moment. Now he wanted to stay alive. So once villagers overpowered him, he was completely disoriented. And he started smiling.”