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Pakistan authorities trying to cover up Ajmal links: reports

Pak authorities and residents of Ajmal Iman's village have launched efforts to cover up their links with the lone gunman arrested for the Mumbai attacks, days after his father admitted that the young man as shown by the media was his son.

world Updated: Dec 15, 2008 15:02 IST

Pakistani authorities and residents of Ajmal Amir Iman's village have apparently launched efforts to cover up their links with the lone gunman arrested for the Mumbai terror attacks, days after his father admitted that the young man as shown by the media was his son.

Pakistani security and intelligence agencies have deployed a large number of personnel in plainclothes at Faridkot in Okara district of Punjab province, from where Ajmal hails with journalists visiting the area having to face angry protests.

Footage of the intelligence operatives has been aired by Geo News channel. The News daily reported that journalists who visited Faridkot on December 6 were surrounded by over 100 people, some of them armed with lathis, who pressurised the reporters not to interview anybody or do any filming in the area.

Ghulam Mustafa Wattoo, the mayor of the local council who has been at the forefront of efforts to deny Iman's links to the village, warned the journalists that they would be responsible for the "consequences" if they went against the wishes of the people.

One person tried to snatch the camera and wallet of a foreign journalist and a team from a TV channel was assaulted by persons who snatched their mobile phones and digital video (DV) tapes and tried to smash their cameras.

Asim Rana, who was in-charge of the team, said villagers could not take DV tapes from the camera "with such expertise" because they would not know how to extract the tapes. "It clearly shows that some people from the (security) agencies are among the villagers, who are running the whole show," Rana said.

An unnamed top Pakistani politician and a senior Punjab police official had also confirmed to a foreign journalist that Iman belonged to Faridkot, The News reported.

On Sunday, hundreds of people from Faridkot blocked the Dipalpur-Kasur road for about two hours to protest what they described as a media campaign "wrongly linking their village" to Iman. During the protest, Mayor Wattoo said Iman was not a resident of the village and was not related to anyone there.

Iman's father Amir Kasab admitted to the influential Dawn newspaper that the gunman shown in pictures of the attack on a train terminus in Mumbai was his son. After he spoke to the newspaper, AmirKasab and his wife Noor were moved from their home in Faridkot to an undisclosed location.

Geo News channel too has aired what it described as secretly filmed footage of Faridkot residents acknowledging that Iman belonged to the village. The residents said Iman had last visited Faridkot five to six months ago, when he told his mother he was going away for jehad.

The channel also reported that a man named Ghafoor is currently living in Amir Kasab's home in Faridkot. Ghafoor has also claimed to reporters that he has been living in the house for "several years".