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Six Western tourists were kidnapped by Al-Faran, a Kashmiri Islamist militant organisation from the Liddarwat area of Pahalgam in the Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir on 4 July 1995.[1]

Contents

BackgroundEdit

In 1989, Pakistan initiated an armed insurgency started in Jammu and Kashmir.[2]

KidnappingsEdit

The six victims included two British tourists, Keith Mangan (from Middlesbrough) and Paul Wells; two Americans, John Childs of Simsbury, Connecticut, and Donald Hutchings of Spokane, Washington; a German, Dirk Hasert; and a Norwegian, Hans Christian Ostrø. Mangan's and Hutchings' wives were left behind by the kidnappers as their husbands were abducted.[3][4]

A note released by the kidnappers a day after the kidnappings read, "Accept our demands or face dire consequences. We are fighting against anti-Islamic forces. Western countries are anti-Islam, and America is the biggest enemy of Islam."[5] Childs managed to escape and was rescued four days later.[6] Ostrø was beheaded by his abductors and his body was found near Pahalgam on 13 August 1995.[7] His body was taken to AIIMS, New Delhi, where a postmortem was conducted by Professor T. D. Dogra, who established the beheading as antemortem and reported that the words "Al Faran" were carved onto his chest.[8] The kidnappers demanded the release of Pakistani militant Maulana Masood Azhar who had been imprisoned by India and 20 other prisoners. Several national and international organisations issued appeals to Al-Faran to release the tourists. Representatives of the embassies of the victims' countries also visited Kashmir frequently to seek their release, without success. In December 1995, the kidnappers left a note that they were no longer holding the men hostage.[9] Mangan,[10] Wells, Hutchings, and Hasert have never been found and are presumed to have been killed.

In May 1996, a captured militant told Indian investigators and F.B.I. agents that he had heard that all four hostages had been shot dead on 13 December 1995, nine days after an Indian military ambush that killed four of the original hostage-takers, including the man said to have been leading them, Abdul Hamid Turki.[11][12] Journalists Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark claim hoewver, in their book The Meadow, that the remaining hostages were sold from Al-Faran to Ghulam Nabi Mir, also known as Azad Nabi, who held them for months before shooting them dead on 24 December 1995.[13] Ghulam Nabi Mir was at the time leader of pro-Indian Islamic guerilla group Muslim Mujahedin, a fraction of Hizbul Mujahideen, who organized themselves into the Patriotic Peoples Front in 1995 or 1996 to contest local elections.[14][15][16]

The Indian authorities alleged that Al-Faran was a branch of Harkat-ul-Ansar; however the militant group denied having any such ties to Al-Faran.[17]

Rescue attemptEdit

According to the US-based Terrorism Research Center, Norwegian special forces from the Forsvarets Spesialkommando (FSK) made an attempt to locate and rescue the Norwegian hostage Ostrø. "In 1995, a small force from the unit deployed in the Kashmir region of India in an attempt to find and free a Norwegian citizen who was held hostage and later beheaded, by the Al-Faran guerrillas." The attempt was not successful. The Terrorism Research Center presented the information about FSK's missions in Kashmir without prejudice. The Norwegian Ministry of Defence has never admitted such an action taken place.[18]

AftermathEdit

The kidnappings were widely covered by western press and helped bring terrorism in Kashmir to the International communities attention. Donald Hutchings's wife Jane Schelly made repeated trips to the region to try to get some answers in vain.[19] In 1997, Indian police exhumed a body that was initially thought to be of British tourist Paul Wells.[20] However, subsequent forensic tests showed that the body did not belong to any of the tourists.[21] Maulana Masood Azhar was subsequently released in exchange for passengers aboard hijacked Indian Airlines Flight 814 along with Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh. Sheikh was arrested in 2002 and was later tried and convicted for the kidnapping and beheading of Daniel Pearl in Karachi, Pakistan.

Amjad Farooqi, accused of being one of the kidnapper, was reported killed in Pakistan in September 2004.[22][23]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Fifth Tourist Kidnapped in Kashmir, The New York Times, (9 July 1995)
  2. ^ Kashmiri Rebels Decapitate Captive Norwegian Tourist, The New York Times, (14 August 1995)
  3. ^ "Middlesbrough hostage Keith Mangan abducted in Kashmir 20 years ago today". Gazettelive.co.uk. 4 July 2005. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  4. ^ "'New age of terror' has Spokane link". The Spokesman-Review. 21 December 2014. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  5. ^ Hijacking Revives Saga of Kashmir Kidnappings in '95, The New York Times, (31 December 1999)
  6. ^ American Tricks Captors in Kashmir and Bolts to Freedom, The New York Times, (10 July 1995)
  7. ^ Kashmiri Rebels Decapitate Captive Norwegian Tourist, The New York Times, 14 August 1995
  8. ^ Kidnapped book review, The New York Times, 9 August 1998
  9. ^ Worry Rising For Hostages Seized in India, The New York Times, (13 December 1995)
  10. ^ http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/middlesbrough-hostage-keith-mangan-abducted-9584023
  11. ^ "Report: Spokane man killed in India : m.kitsapsun.com : Kitsap, Washington, News, Business, Homes, Jobs, Cars & Information". Archived from the original on 22 July 2009. Retrieved 13 July 2009.
  12. ^ Burns, John F. (6 July 1997). "No Answers for Wife of U.S. Hostage in Kashmir". The New York Times.
  13. ^ "IndoPak: New book claims India-backed group killed kidnapped Kashmir tourists". Public Radio International. 3 April 2012. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  14. ^ "Jammu & Kashmir - Political Parties". peacekashmir.org. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  15. ^ "Jolt to counter insurgency". The Milli Gazette. 1 July 2001. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  16. ^ "Top counter-insurgent killed in J&K". Rediff.com. 16 June 2001. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  17. ^ "Did pro-India militias kill Western tourists in Kashmir?". Reuters. 18 April 2012. Retrieved 16 May 2012.
  18. ^ http://www.vg.no/nyheter/utenriks/artikkel.php?artid=1588113
  19. ^ No Answers for Wife of U.S. Hostage in Kashmir, The New York Times, (6 July 1997)
  20. ^ Exhumed Body Is of British Hostage, India Confirms, Los Angeles Times, (6 January 2000)
  21. ^ Tests dispute Kashmir body identity, BBC, (27 March 2000)
  22. ^ http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/paper1129
  23. ^ http://www.terrorismanalysts.com/pt/index.php/pot/article/view/655/html

External linksEdit