Indicating that the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) has been successful in expanding its network in south Kashmir, eight boys arrested on their way to militant camps across the Line of Control on Friday were residents of Shopian district.
Police said the youth, ncluding school-goers, had pledged to become fidayeens (suicide attackers) for the outfit.
“The boys told investigators that they were going for fidayeen training to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). We are investigating as to who motivated them for arms training,” said Inspector General of police, Kashmir, Farooq Ahmed. “They (the arrested boys) are young and cannot take them seriously.”
The police have called the families of the arrested youth and decided to organize a reunion. “We are planning to hand them over to their families,” said SSP Srinagar Javaid Reyaz Bedar.
The arrested youth, who fall in the age group between seventeen and early twenties, are Class 8th, Class 9th, Class 12th and college students. They are residents of Gathipora and its adjoining village Katuhalan, 8 km from Shopian town.
“They (the arrested youth) left home saying we have to visit Srinagar city. Nobody in the family new they were going for arms training,” said a family member of one of the arrested youths on the condition of anonymity.
The boys were supposed to cross over to PoK from Kupwara sector, a preferred route of militants. No conduit was accompanying the batch of eight boys. Police said a guide was waiting at Kupwara, 110 km north of Srinagar. But the boys were arrested when after crossing 65 km south Kashmir, they, traveling in a Sumo vehicle, were crossing Parimpora, situated on the outskirts of Srinagar.
Family members of Pervez Ahmad Mir (17), however, are not ready to accept police statement. “My brother left around 9 am in the morning to buy vegetables since ours is a dry area. Vegetables are not grown here in large quantity. We request administration to thoroughly investigate and don’t go by the interrogation report,” said Manzoor Ahmad Mir, elder brother of Mir.
Manzoor said how could a boy carrying just Rs 100 go on to cross the LoC? He claimed the family members were not allowed to meet the boys despite police assurances they will be.
The Shopian police are now checking the credentials of these eight boys to look into the motivation and reasons for them to join militancy.
The detained youth have been identified as 17 year old Nasir Ahmad Lone son of Abdul Rashid, Ashiq Ahmed Dar, 15, Showkat Shafi Lone, 15, Shakir Ahmad Lone,17, Parvaiz Ahmad Mir, 17, Aijaz Ahmad Ganaie, 18, Shafqat Ahmad Lone who are all residents of Gatipora Shopian and 18 year old Shabir Ahmad Pal a resident of nearby Katuhalan village.