India-backed gang behind killings of 4 Western tourists in 1995

A new book written by foreign investigative journalists Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark has claimed that four foreign tourists abducted from Pahalgam in Indian Occupied Kashmir in 1995 were killed by a group of militants sponsored by Indian army.

A group of American and European tourists Don Hutchings and John Childs, Britons Keith Mangan and Paul Wells, German Dirk Hasert and Norwegian Hans Christian Ostro were abducted by an unknown organization, Al Faran, in Indian Occupied Kashmir in July 1995, KMS reported.

Immediately after the kidnap, all pro-liberation political and militant organizations denounced the kidnap and blamed India for the act to malign their legitimate struggle for freedom.

Of the six kidnapped tourists, John Childs escaped from the clutches of his abductors. Ostro was beheaded and his body was found later in August.

However, no details about the fate of the rest were available and it is assumed that they were reportedly shot dead.

According to a Delhi-based newspaper Asian Age, investigative journalists Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark, who have written their new book, “The Meadow: Kashmir 1995 . ,” about the abduction, claim that the four Westerners were murdered by a group of militants working for the Indian Army.

After the murder of Ostro, Al Faran was ready to strike a monetary deal to free the hostages and might have been released for as little as 250,000. However, the authors claim that the deal was deliberately sabotaged.

“It appeared that there were some in the Indian establishment who did not want this never-ending bad news story” to malign Pakistan and Kashmiri liberation movement, even “when the perpetrators themselves were finished,” the book claimed.

Quoting the Kashmir police’s crime branch squad, the two authors write that the investigators had been convinced that the Indian-controlled renegades had the control of four Westerners after Al Faran dropped them.

“The squad reported some of its thoughts to its seniors, using these kinds of words, `Sikander’s men handed over Paul, Dirk, Keith and Don to Alpha’s renegades in the third of fourth week of November, around the time when the final sightings dried up. Sikander has given up. Al Faran is finished. Embarrassingly, India controls the renegades,” the authors said.

The book also quotes a crime branch source, who worked alongside the police’s Special Task Force in Kashmir and had been a scout for the Rashtriya Rifles about the fate of the four Westerners.

The hostages were brought to the isolated twin villages of Mati Gawran, near the Mardan Top Pass, and about five-hour drive from Anantnag, the source is quoted as saying.

“The foreigners were hustled into a house by some STF boys and renegades. We gathered up the hostages and walked them out into the snow. There was only one end waiting for them, and we all knew it. No one could risk the hostages being released and complaining of collusion, having seen uniforms and STF jeeps, possibly hearing things too that they understood.”

The four hostages were shot dead and buried in the frozen ground near a grove of trees behind the lower village on December 24, 1995, according to the source.

“We led them into the trees, a good, hard walk behind the lower village. I remember that the snow was heavy and deep. And there they were shot. I did not do it, but I saw it with my own eyes. Afterwards, village men were forced at gunpoint to dig a hole down through the frozen earth in which to bury the bodies.”

Quoting a crime branch detective, the book claims that the Indian government had not wanted the hostage crisis to end.

“This was the harshest version of the Game that anyone could imagine..,” the book maintained.