India and Pakistan traded charges on Thursday over the nationality of a terrorist caught in Jammu as home minister Rajnath Singh reiterated Mohammed Naved came from across the border, an assertion Islamabad rejected because his name was not on a national database.
Naved told security forces he was a resident of Ghulam Muhammadabad area of Faisalabad city in Pakistan’s Punjab province after he was captured following a deadly ambush on a Border Security Force convoy in Jammu and Kashmir that left two troopers dead and eight others injured.
Indian forces also gunned down his accomplice – identified as Mohammad Nomen alias Nomin -- who Naved said hailed from Bahawalpur.
But hours later, Pakistani officials dismissed the assertion, saying it was "unsubstantiated and unwarranted", as reported by the daily Express Tribune.
Singh told both houses of Parliament security forces neutralised eight terrorists last month and foiled four infiltration attempts."We strongly condemn the attack and the persistent attempts by terrorists from across the border to vitiate the peaceful atmosphere in Jammu and Kashmir," he said.
Islamabad contended the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) records revealed Naved was “not a Pakistani national” but Indian experts argued the assertion couldn’t be taken at face value because NADRA holds data for just 96 million people – about half the country’s 180 million population.
Pakistan made a similar claim about Ajmal Kasab, the lone terrorist captured alive during the 2008 Mumbai attacks, before acknowledging his Pakistani nationality months later.
Both the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad have a strong presence in Faisalabad and Bahawalpur.
Naved’s capture during the terror attack in Udhampur was ignored by most of Pakistan’s leading dailies. Those newspapers which carried the report buried it deep inside. The news also did not figure on the websites of most leading Pakistani news organisations.
In many ways, the reaction to the arrest of Naved was reminiscent of Kasab’s capture. For days, the Pakistani media and government rejected he was Pakistani. Kasab told Indian authorities he belonged to Faridkot in Punjab but the media contended there was no village of that name.
Things changed only when a Pakistan-based reporter of a foreign newspaper travelled to Faridkot and traced details of Kasab’s family and the influential Dawn newspaper printed an interview with Kasab’s father. Soon after, Kasab’s family was spirited away from Faridkot by Pakistani intelligence agencies.
(with agency inputs)