February 2017 News

'Guides' Of Uri Terrorists To Walk Free As NIA Finds No Evidence

25 February 2017
Times of India
Bharti Jain

New Delhi: The National Investigation Agency has filed a closure report in the case relating to two 'guides' from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, initially suspected to have helped the fidayeen squad that attacked the Indian Army camp at Uri on September 18, 2016, as the charges against the duo could not be substantiated. The two youths - Faisal Hussain Awan and Ahsan Khursheed - are likely to be returned to Pakistan as part of a 'goodwill' arrangement under which Indian Army soldier Chandu Chavan was sent back here last month. The custody of the two youths provided leverage to India in ensuring Chavan's return. The NIA decided to file the closure report after its probe did not find evidence to corroborate the initial 'confessional statement' the two youths made to the Indian Army. The two were arrested on September 21 last year after the attack in which terrorists killed 19 Indian soldiers. The investigation into the larger conspiracy behind the Uri terror strike will, however, continue. Sources in the security establishment said the 'swap' is part of the arrangement that saw Chavan being sent back by the Pakistani army. India has now initiated the process to send back Awan and Khursheed after the NIA probe found them to be youths who inadvertently crossed over from PoK and seemingly not having any link with the Uri attack. A source in the home ministry told TOI that the closure report, filed in the NIA special court on Thursday, states that no evidence has been found and the two are exonerated of all charges. Once the court accepts the closure report, the two will be free to go back to their families in PoK. The modalities of their return to PoK are likely to be decided by the ministry of external affairs. The Army has been informally told about the closure report. Top Comment Kashmir named after the great Kashyapa Muni is an integral part of India. Emperor Asoka founded Shrinagari while he was governor at Taxila during his father's rule. The seat of omniscience of Adi Sa... Read MoreBalananda Kumar The relief for Awan and Khursheed follows claims by their families in PoK, as reported in a section of the media, that the two are Class X students and not yet adults. As per their initial statement to the Army, while Awan, son of Gul Akbar, is 20, Khursheed, son of Chaudhary Khursheed, is 19. According to the NIA statement dated September 27, 2016, Awan and Khursheed had, during their interrogation soon after their arrest, 'disclosed that they were tasked by Jaish-e-Muhammed commanders to facilitate the infiltration of a group of four JeM cadres who carried out the Uri Army camp attack'. On being shown photographs of the four slain terrorists, Awan identified one of them as Hafeez Ahmed, son of Feroz, resident of village Dharbang, Muzaffarabad. With the case against Awan and Khursheed collapsing, the claim regarding the identity of the fidayeen has fallen flat. This has further weakened the case after the Army's initial claim attributing the attack to Jaish was belied by evidence pointing to the involvement of Lashkar-e-Taiba. 'The matrix sheet codes recovered from the site are those used by the Lashkar-e-Taiba. Also, Lashkar-e-Taiba had in October 2016 owned up to the attack by announcing funeral prayers for one of the slain fidayeen at Gujranwala in Pakistan,' said an investigator.