Families of two young Kashmiri men who had gone missing were taken aback when a video emerged online showing their kin “confessing” to spying for India in front of the police in Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK).
The PoK police claimed they had arrested two Indian spies on Friday from the border area.
The family of one of the arrested youths, who hails from Kashmir’s Gurez valley, have urged the J-K government to probe how he reached PoK. They have also sought the release of the captured youth and maintained they are not spies.
On Friday, police in Gilgit said two persons, Noor Muhammad Wani and Feroz Ahmad Lone, were arrested on charges of being Indian spies. In their subsequent address to the media, the two youth, who had their faces masked, claimed to be from the Gurez area of Bandipora and “confessed” that they had been forced to cross over into PoK by a trooper of the Territorial Army (TA).
Gilgit-based paper, Pamir Times, also reported that “Gilgit Police has taken custody of two Indian spies caught from the border area by security forces.”
Zahoor Lone, brother of one of the captives, told Outlook over the phone that when his brother Feroz went missing in November 2018, his family lodged a missing report with the police. He had been looking for his younger brother since then.
During the investigation, he said, his call details were checked and the last call was from one Rouf Ahmad of Bandipora, posted with the Territorial Army. “I insisted the police to take action and call Rouf for questioning, but he was not questioned. Now my brother in the video says it was Rouf who forced them to go into Pakistan. This aspect should be investigated,” Zahoor added.
“I want that the case to be re-investigated and Rouf be questioned,” he added.
Zahoor said his brother was working as a village-level worker (VLW) in the Rural Development Department and was doing well in his life. “I am a computer operator and have a shop in Gurez. When my brother went missing, I was in Jammu at the time regarding my work. I got a call from my family saying Feroz had gone missing. I rushed back to home," he said.
He said the police later told his family that a woman had claimed to have killed Feroz and dumped his body somewhere in a river.
Sources say the police that time had called a number of people for questioning based on the missing report of Feroz. Sources also said that of the two arrested in Gilgit, only one person’s missing report is lodged with the police.
“Since Feroz’s body was not found, an FIR in his case was not registered and the woman during the subsequent investigation was let off as the case was not proved against her,” sources said.
In the case of the other youth who was arrested, no missing report had been filed.
Bashir Ahmed Wani, uncle of Noor Muhammad, however, released a video message saying his nephew was an orphan, and he had brought him up.
“My nephew left education halfway and started working as a labourer,” he said.
Since 2015, he said, Noor Mohammad was not much connected with the family as he moved to different places for work.
“Yesterday, the Pakistani army video went viral that said two youths including my nephew had been arrested on charges of being Indian spies. I think they were forced to make such statements by Pakistani army,” Bashir said.
“My nephew doesn’t even know the meaning of spying. We didn’t even file any missing complaint about my nephew as I thought he might be working somewhere to earn some money,” he said.
He appealed to governments of both the counties to release the two men.
“The statement of the Pakistan army that they are spies is not based on truth. My appeal to the government of Pakistan and the government of India is that these two youths should be released,” Bashir said.