In Custody, Key Man In J&K's Surrender Hoax Blames It On His Congress Leaders
3 December 2004
The Indian Express
Chrar-E-Shrief: Bashir Ahmad 'Golu', one of the three men who made 27 unemployed Kashmiris pose as militants and 'surrender' to the Army last month by promising them government jobs and 'a meeting with Sonia Gandhi', is now blaming leaders of his own party, the Congress, for the hoax. 'Many big Congress leaders were part of this drama,' Golu told The Indian Express today at the Chrar-e-Sharief police station. He is in police custody and will be produced in court tomorrow. The police haven't yet moved against the other two men, Nazir Ahmad Bhat and Master Maqbool Malla, who lured the 27 men. 'Nobody will arrest them because then the whole story will be out and many big leaders will get into trouble,' Golu said. He claimed he had been instructed by Malla, Congress Kashmir province secretary, to 'collect delegates.' 'It was in May. He (Malla) called me to his government quarters in Chadoora. He told me the party needed men for Sewa Dal as it was planning an aman (peace) rally in New Delhi. He told me to look for unemployed, poor villagers because they would be meeting Soniaji and provided government jobs on their return,' Golu said. He said he collected 27 villagers and took them to Malla. 'He (Malla) gave them party letters, introducing them as delegates for the rally. I was convinced that the party wanted to do something for its workers. I even registered my brother and three cousins, thinking they would all get jobs.' Although JKPCC chief Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed denied that Malla was linked to the party, inquiries by the The Indian Express revealed that Malla was a veteran Congress worker, currently a party 'provincial secretary.' According to Golu, the other person 'involved in organising this group of 27 villagers' is Nazir Ahmad Bhat. 'Nazir Ahmad Bhat is a close relative of Peerzada Sahib. We know he is very powerful in the party. He was one of the main organisers of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's rally (in Srinagar). In fact, I went to Peerzada Sahib's house to meet Nazir,' Golu said. He said that the men were taken to Delhi in groups. 'Nazir Ahmad Bhat was organising everything while Malla returned home.' He said that the first time he realised something was wrong was when he went to Delhi. 'I met them (the 27 men) at a hotel in Dwarka. But Nazir didn't let me speak to them alone,' he said. Golu said when he returned home, he found the families of the 27 men very anxious. 'I again took them to Malla because now my only contact with Nazir was via his mobile phone and he wasn't taking my calls. Malla kept assuring us that all 27 would soon return home. Malla later told me that the men had been taken to (the Army camp in) Udhampur.' The Indian Express called the mobile phone number which Golu said was Nazir's. It turned out to be Nazir's number, the person at the other end saying 'he has left it with his family in Srinagar, he himself is at Trikuta Nagar in Jammu.'