India on Thursday said the Udhampur terror attack that led to the dramatic capture of a Pakistani terrorist was aimed at derailing peace in Jammu and Kashmir. Islamabad meanwhile denied that the young guerrilla in Indian custody was a Pakistani.
And in a familiar repeat of the arguments advanced after Pakistani terrorists caused mayhem in Mumbai in 2008, Islamabad sought proof from New Delhi for the captured terrorist’s Pakistani link.
“We strongly condemn the attack and the persistent attempts by terrorists from across the border to vitiate the peaceful atmosphere in Jammu and Kashmir,” Home Minister Rajnath Singh told parliament.
Two terrorists ambushed and killed two BSF troopers on the Srinagar-Jammu highway in Udhampur district on Wednesday. After one of the terrorists was killed, the other, now identified as Naved alias Mohammad Usman, fled to a village and took shelter in a house but was caught by three villagers.
Rajnath Singh said the captured terrorist — believed to be 20-something — admitted he was from Faisalabad in Pakistan.
Pakistani authorities denied that Usman was a Pakistani.
Dunya News cited official sources as saying that the suspect was not a Pakistani as information about him was not found in the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA).
NADRA also said images of the terrorist shown on Indian television did not match any Pakistani citizen.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesman Qazi Khalilulla was more forthright: “We have repeatedly asked India to refrain from (hurling false) accusations.”
Meanwhile, the Pakistani terrorist was shifted to the Joint Interrogation Centre at Talab Tillo area in Jammu where intelligence officers from the state and New Delhi quizzed him.
Jammu and Kashmir government sources told IANS that a National Investigation Agency team headed by Inspector General Sunil Kumar visited the site where a BSF convoy was attacked at Narsu Nallah in Udhampur.
The sources said the Pakistani was likely to be shifted out of Jammu and Kashmir for sustained interrogation.
India is expected to take up strongly with Islamabad the terror attacks at Udhampur and earlier in Gurdaspur in Punjab, which left seven people dead, when the National Security Advisers of India and Pakistan meet as scheduled later this month.
After saying that 14 Border Security Force troopers were also injured in Wednesday’s attack, Rajnath Singh said the government was committed to combating terrorism with a strong resolve.
He said the government was considering gallantry awards for the slain BSF men. “We specially appreciate the bravery of the villagers who risked their lives and nabbed the terrorists.”
The BSF said there was no intelligence inputs of a possible terror attack in Udhampur.
BSF Director General D.K. Pathak said only one BSF trooper in the bus that was ambushed while going to the Kashmir Valley was armed.
“If our jawan had not neutralized (one of the militants, they) would have caused mayhem… It was due to him that many lives were saved.”
The BSF also said that their convoy was not the intended target. News reports quoted the captured Pakistani as saying on Wednesday that he and his fellow militant wanted to target the ongoing Amarnath Yatra.