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The Meadow – News

Kashmir Times – second fire

P S Gill the former IGP Kashmir today filed his response in kidnapping of six foreign tourists by Al-Faran before State Human Rights Commission (SHRC).
The Commission has directed that the copy of Gill’s response be provided to Khurram Parvez, coordinator Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Societies who according to the commission is at liberty to the rejoinder against all pending reports.

Meanwhile, the deputy commissioner Anantnag is still to file his report and the Commission has said that he will be served by staff of Commission personally to extract the response in the matter.

Judicial Magistrate, Aishmuqam has made available record of Ikhtitami (closure report) of FIR no.’s 66/67/70 of 1995 along with case diary files.
The case pertains to July 1995, when a group called Al Faran allegedly kidnapped six foreign tourists in south Kashmir. For a few weeks the group negotiated with Indian security officials and foreign diplomats, but eventually one of the Americans escaped while another hostage, a Norwegian, was beheaded. The other four were never traced.
On August 13, Inspector General of Police Crime branch in his response filed before SHRC said the case dairy containing the entire details of the kidnapping of six foreign tourists by Al-Faran was reduced to ashes in a fire incident.

The IG said the master copy of the case diary was damaged completely in the fire in SSP crime, Pahalgam, on September 11, 2010.
“The full case diary file along with other relevant documents prepared by the crime branch Kashmir has been sent by SSP, Crime, to the Police Station Pahalgam on 2 July 2004 for submission of the Ikhtitami [closure report] before the competent court of law. The master file retained in the office of SSP, Crime, has been gutted and reduced to ashes during the fire on 11 September 2010,” he said in his response.

Last year, a book, ‘The Meadow: Kashmir 1995—Where the Terror Began,’ by two investigative journalists, Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark, concluded that the hostages were killed by local mercenaries funded and controlled by Indian army and intelligence.

The authors argued that entire kidnapping incidents and the events followed were part of India’s larger plan for de legitimizing the Kashmiri struggle for freedom.
The DC, Anantnag, however, has not submitted a report. And the Secretary of the Commission has asked him to speed up the effort “as the matter is of international importance.”
The applicants counsel, advocate Parvaiz Imroz, submitted before the commission that the SHO Pahalgam has already submitted the Ikhtitamis [closure] of FIR’s 66/1995, 67/1995 and 70/1995 before Judicial Magistrate, Aishmuqam.

Indian Express – first fire

The Jammu and Kashmir Police today claimed that the “master file” related to the 1995 kidnapping of six foreign tourists was gutted in a fire in the Crime Branch headquarters in Srinagar on September 11, 2010.

Reported to have been kidnapped by a little known militant outfit called Al Faran, one of the foreigners managed to escape and another was later found dead. But the remaining four were never found. A recent book by investigative journalists Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark, The Meadow, Kashmir 1995 — Where The Terror Began, has now alleged the involvement of security agencies in their deaths.

Based on the book, the International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice and the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons filed a petition in the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC). The SHRC had asked the police to submit its report on the case.

But, in his letter to the SHRC today, Inspector General of Police, Crime, Abdul Gani Mir, said the case diary along with other relevant documents prepared by the Crime Branch had been sent to the Pahalgam police station on July 2, 2004 for submitting the closure report before the competent court.

“The master file retained in the office of SSP, Crime, was gutted and reduced to ashes during the fire on September 11, 2010,’’ he said.

The counsel for the petitioners, Parvez Imroz, informed the commission that the Pahalgam SHO had already submitted the closure reports before the judicial magistrate in Aishmuqam.

“If that is so… the commission shall call the record of the closure reports along with all case diary files and relevant documents from the Aishmuqam court,” said the SHRC.


South Asia Journal

For sensitive Indians, reading ‘The Meadow’ is like walking barefoot on a hot tin roof. One might feel tempted to slide down one steep side into an inviting pool of outright denial, or roll off the other side and land on a haystack of extenuating theories, historical explanations, legal minutiae, writes the poet and essayist  Jyotirmoy Datta.

It takes a cool head to walk straight on the ridge of the roof.

For page after page, ‘The Meadow: Kashmir 1995’ pins the reader down to reality as experienced by a multinational cast of backpackers, made to trudge over mountain pass and trail on bleeding feet to an uncertain fate by a group of jihadis.

Every reader is bound to grieve over the plight of the hostages and the agony of their loved ones, who hover over the scene like hapless petrels. For the Indian reader, to the agony and horror is added shame, arising out of the knowledge that it takes democratic India half a million soldiers to maintain control of Kashmir.

But it is not Indian forces alone that are responsible for the tragedy. The immediate causes of the hostage crisis were events taking place far away from the valley.

“Ever since the Soviets had begun withdrawing from Afghanistan, with refugees flooding into Peshawar, fearful of what would replace the Red Army, Pakistan had been secretly preparing, in the words of General Zia-ul-Haq, the country’s most recent military dictator, to ‘make something of Kashmir.’ Now the eyes of the army and the ISI had been drawn by the fortuitous events taking place of the other side of LoC (Line of Control). The local insurgency had just exploded there, with hundreds of thousands of people rising up in the Muslim-dominated valley.”

Our authors, Levy and Scott-Clark, follow this up with a quick survey of the history of conflicts in the divided subcontinent, often skipping the role of such major forces, such as the Bangladesh Mukti Bahini.

“The most serious conflagration came in December 1971, when Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had ordered an assault on East Pakistan, which ended after barely two weeks, with the Pakistan Army forced into a humiliating surrender at a Dhaka racecourse. Pakistan had never recovered from what it regarded as a deeply shameful moment in its young history, and ever since its military leaders and ISI had been searching for the right lever to pull so as to reassert themselves.”

Previously there had been sporadic incidents sponsored by the ISI, but they never built up to a flaming wave. Kashmiri groups had a habit of going their own way, calling for independence not just from India but also Pakistan, or, worse, sometimes agreeing to religious and political accommodation with India. In the eyes of Pakistani hawks, “whose ranks were now bloated with war-hungry Pashtuns and dutiful Punjabis, the Kashmiris, infused with their mountain ways and Sufi-inspired traditions — were insufficiently blood-thirsty. ’The Kashmiris were just too moderate,’ Masood Azhar wrote in The Voice of the Mujahid, ‘to mount the kind of total war that was needed if India was to be unseated’.”

Who is this Masood Azhar?

One of the contributions of ‘The Meadow’ to the literature on terrorism is the light it casts on the rise of Masood Azhar. MORE

Indeed there are two books within the covers of ‘The Meadow: Kashmir 1995.’ One of the two is about what the title says it is — the hostage-taking in Kashmir in 1995; — the other book is about the cause of the hostage-taking and its sequel, stretching from 1983 to the present day. This other book has barely been noticed by reviewers of ‘The Meadow: Kashmir 1995’; I propose to examine the second book first.

“In July 1995, high in the mountains of Kashmir, six Western trekkers — two Britons, two Americans, a German and a Norwegian — were seized by a group of Islamic guerrillas who demanded the release of twenty-one named militants imprisoned in Indian jails in exchange for their lives. At the head of the list was Masood Azhar, a portly cleric from Pakistan.”

Portrait of the Terrorist as a Young Man

Masood Azhar is the real protagonist of the second book-within-book. It was in order to secure the release of Masood from an Indian jail that the hostage drama was hatched in Pakistan. And it is Masood who is said to have developed the practices and rhetoric of global terrorism that were first tried out in Kashmir, and then executed with chilling skill in Pakistan, Britain and India in the years since.

“Masood’s early career mirrored that of Osama (bin Laden). Growing up in Pakistan’s eastern Punjab province in the seventies and eighties, Masood, the spoiled son of a wealthy landowner, had lacked for nothing — much like the privileged young Osama… Educated in an Islamist hothouse in the frenetic port city of Karachi… Masood graduated to become the mouthpiece for a guerrilla outfit that would, like Osama, gravitate to Afghanistan to fight the occupying Red Army to a standstill.”

Levy and Scott-Clark paint an unflattering portrait of the terrorist as a young man.

Masood was short, obese, and in the habit of getting into, literally, tight holes from which others had to extricate him.

He is the product of a factory of jihadists, called Binori Town, a madrassa in Karachi where six-year-olds arrived from all over Pakistan to be “steeped in a deeply conservative curriculum steeped in the ethos of the Dark Ages.

““Masood Azhar gained a reputation for his “oratory prowess and religious fervour.” But he was not a fighter, unlike the “three graduates from Binori Town (who) had undergone basic training, supervised by military instructors borrowed from the Paksitan armed forces and the ISI, and paid for by the CIA, before being sent through the Khyber Pass to do battle with the Red Army. By the time Masood was fifteen in 1983, one of the three Binori Town graduates had been martyred in Afghanistan, another had vanished, presumed dead, while the third had become a famed warrior with the nom de guerre of ‘Saifullah,’ or Sword of Islam.”

When Masood was selected to follow on the footsteps of such distinguished alumni, he quailed, for he had “always been an indoor child, preferring the company of his mother and siblings to the tough neighborhood boys…Since becoming a teenager he had been desk-bound, and had grown used to the creature comforts of Binori Town, preferring a rickshaw to walking , and growing fat on plates of tender nihari, the spicy meat stew that many Pakistani’s regard as their national dish.”

Much of the value of “The Meadow: Kashmir 1995” is in the accumulation of details on the process of Masood’s rise to the top of the jihad machine. In life, unlike romantic poetry, the handsome and the daring are the first to be mowed down in battle. The brilliant and the audacious are all cannon fodder in a system that has in its recesses safe pockets in which to preserve its ideologues.

“Overweight and short of breath, Masood failed to make it through the forty-day basic training. But as the young man had been sent with the personal blessing of Maulana Khalil, Saifullah could not return him to Karachi uninitiated in battle, so he dispatched him to the frontline anyway. Needing to relieve himself in the middle of the night, Masood emerged from the dugout where his unit was sleeping and forgot, in the darkness, to utter a password to the guards. Believing that Soviet-backed Afghan forces were mounting an ambush, they opened fire, and Masood received a bullet wound to the leg. Saifullah was horrified, and had arranged for Masood to be stretchered back to Karachi…The calamitous story was reported to the ISI, whose agents still recall reading it incredulously.”

This unheroic exit from frontline jihad turned into a golden opportunity. He had acquired a limp, which he embroidered stories. He was given the desk job of editing the Sadai Mujahid (Voice of the Mujahid) magazine, which became a smash, selling tens of thousands of copies every Friday. Looked up with awe for his inspiring words, time and again he was rescued from nasty corners by comrades who put his safety above their own.

A Template for Terrorism

Smuggled into India via Bangladesh, he was picked up by Indian forces almost immediately on arrival and imprisoned. His comrades dug a tunnel for him to escape, but he was too fat and got stuck midway. The comrade behind Masood got shot. He was, however, pulled out by Indian jailers. His followers then proceeded to hijack an Indian Airlines plane and successfully negotiated his release. From this point, Masood spreads his wings. Levy and Scott-Clark uncover entirely new connections and the text needs to be quoted in full:

“The fate of Masood, and the bloodshed and intrigue that engulfed the six Western trekkers, would shape much of the epoch that followed. In the mountains of Kashmir that summer, Masood and his gunmen experimented with the tactics and rhetoric of Islamic terror, unveiling to the world extreme acts and justifications that were at the time new, but would soon become all too familiar.

“Finding and squeezing Western pressure points, testing foreign governments’ sensibilities and resolve, this hostage-taking would enable Masood and his men to refine their methods before they combined forces with Osama’s al Qaeda, soon assisted by the black-turbaned Taliban, when they came to power in Afghanistan in 1996.

“It would only be a short leap from the kidnappings in Kashmir to the suicidal assaults in New Delhi, Srinagar, New York, Washington, London and Mumbai in which many thousands would die or be injured. Three months after 9/11, Masood’s men struck in India, their brazen raid of the parliament in New Delhi broadcast across the subcontinent, just as the Twin Towers had been seen falling around the world on live TV.

“In 2002, Masood’s bodyguard and one of his British recruits adapted tactics honed during their Kashmir kidnapping to abduct Daniel Pearl, a Wall Street Journal reporter, and to film his horrific beheading. Masood himself, like Osama, slipped from public view, becoming a shadowy eminence grise. In 2004, he welcomed several British Pakistanis to the land of their forefathers, and in the terrorist training camps of north-west Pakistan he helped them plan for the mayhem they would unleash in London in July 2005, when four near-simultaneous suicide bombs went off in the heart of the heaving capital, killing fifty-two and injuring more than seven hundred.

“In 2006, another of Masood’s British projects manipulated jihadi recruits from the West to mount a complex plot to bring down multiple airliners over the Atlantic with liquid bombs smuggled abroad in soft-drink bottles. Two years later, in November 2008, Masood was again in the background as Pakistani militants made an assault on India’s financial center of Mumbai…leading to the deaths of 164 holidaymakers, businessmen and residents. Many more plots in the U.S. and U.K. were narrowly thwarted by those nation’s respective governments, saving untold lives. By the time Osama bin Laden was run to ground in Abbotabad, many others from Al Qaeda’s top table had perished too, apart from Masood Azhar.

“He continues to thrive, flitting today between Pakistan’s borders and his old home in Punjab. Four of the tourists seized in Kashmir in the summer of 1995, whose abduction marked the beginning of a new age of terror, simply vanished. Their bodies were never found, and their case was forgotten. Until now.”

The Lessons of the Munich Massacre

At this point starts our Book Number One, the kidnap and hostage story, on which most of the post-publication discussion of ‘The Meadow:Kashmir 1995’has centered.

To students of counter-terrorism, Levy and Scott-Clark display a certain degree of naiveté. The claim in the book’s subtitle, that hostage-taking in the Gulmarg ‘marked the beginning of modern terrorism’ seems exaggerated, for the Gulmarg event in no way matched the notoriety and savagery of the Munich massacre at the Summer Olympics of 1972, or the worldwide shock of the Oklahama City Bombing that immediately preceded the Gulmarg incident and in which as many 168 lives were lost.

To place the Gulmarg incident as the cardinal point for the start of ’modern’ terrorism betrays a desire to play up the importance of the subject to which Levy and Scott-Clark were exposed at an early period of their journalistic career, and the notes of which they, admirably, clung to for 17 years. But they appeared not have followed the development of counter-terrorism techniques, accepted through the ages, perfected subsequent to the Munich massacre.

The first lesson that every counter-terrorism experts appears to have drawn from the attempt by the Bavarian squad to storm the Black September terrorists in which all eleven of the hostages were killed is that the negotiators must always play for time, seek to infiltrate into the ranks of the terrorists, or lure them one way or the other into ambushes, to drag out negotiations in order to have the terrorists betray their weak points.

Within weeks of the publication of ‘The Meadow: Kashmir 1995’, stories appeared in Indian print media alleging Masood was “the blue-eyed boy” of India’s then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao, and that New Delhi had been playing off one militant group in Kashmir against the other.

If that is what Narasimha Rao succeeded in doing, he had indeed earned the title of ‘Chanakya,’ or the Indian Machiavelli that his enemies in the V.P. Singh camp gave him after his skullduggery in the St. Kitts affair.

Narasimha Rao has had a bad deal not only from the Gandhi-Nehru family, but has been left — like Smiley in Le Carre’s The Spy Who Came In From The Cold — with blame for everything that had gone wrong in India since the dismantling of India’s monster License Raj.

A Prime Minister in Delhi must have had even longer arms and defter fingers than those that the current occupant of the White House has in Afghanistan to be able to successfully manipulate splinter groups on the ground. If New Delhi was listening in on the negotiations with the terrorists by the first rung of Kashmir officers, it was just what Authority is directed to do in the post-Munich anti-terrorism textbook. It is amazing the Levy and Scott-Clark make no mention of the most successful rescue by the Colombian army of Ingrid Betancourt and 14 others — after six and a half years of feints, negotiations, offers of release of prisoners, botched raids, mediation by high-profile international figures, and every other trick prescribed in counter-terrorism classics.

This is not to say that the present reviewer condones in any way the barbarism practiced in Kashmir in India’s name. By one reckoning cited by Levy and Scott-Clark, the number of the ‘disappeared’ in Kashmir is “three times the number that vanished under Augusto Pinochet’s regime in Chile:

“On 2 July 2011, a Senior Superintendent of Police, Bashir Ahmed Yatoo, whose career had hitherto been distinguished mainly by his loyalty to the state, revealed the results of the first official inquiry into Imroz’s claim (Parvez Imroz, a courageous lawyer from Srinagar who in the face of death threats took on himself to track down the fate of the disappeared) before the State Human Rights Commission…. SSP Yatoo’s team said it had identified thirty-eight mass graves in north Kashmir, scattered through the pine forests and mossy mountain pastures. In them, according to eyewitnesses, lay at least 2,730 bodies. Of these, Yatoo said, 574 had already been identified as civilians unconnected to the insurgency, people who had been plucked from their homes, vehicles or workplaces by the Indian security forces and killed.”

Reading this puts me in shame and rage, just as sensitive Pakistanis must have been saddened and ashamed by reports of Operation Searchlight by Pakistan army units in Bangladesh in 1970. Publication of ‘The Meadow: Kashmir 1995’ has led to three cases being filed with the Human Rights Commission of Kashmir for fresh investigations into the mass graves issue. Most welcome, but history surely will not stop there. Who knows if the subcontinent will not witness more Bangladesh-style outcomes? At the time of Operation Searchlight, Pakistan was under army rule, with no way for individual Pakistanis to voice their dissent. It is encouraging that individual voices have begun to be heard in India about the trampling of democracy and human rights in Kashmir. One wonders if an Indian Summer can be far behind the Arab Spring.

Times of India – spectres haunting the army

More than three months after the release of an explosive book on the 1995 abduction of six western backpackers by militants in Kashmir, neither the Army nor the Centre has responded to the authors’ allegations that the government did not rescue the hostages despite having intelligence on the movement of the captors. TOI’s attempts over a period of two weeks to get a reaction from the Army were met with silence.

The events date back to July 1995, when a terror outfit called al-Faran, an offshoot of the Harkat ul-Ansar, is believed to have abducted the tourists to negotiate the release of 21 comrades locked up in Indian prisons. These included Jaish-e-Muhammad ideologue Maulana Masood Azhar (who was released in 1999 in exchange for IC814 passengers) and British national Omar Sheikh (who would later kill journalist Daniel Pearl).

One of the abducted tourists, American John Childs, escaped; but four others — Keith Mangan (British), Paul Wells (British), Donald Hutchings (American) and Dirk Hasert (German) — vanished without a trace. A fifth, Hans Christian Ostro ( Norway), was found dead with his head 40 feet from the torso.

Now, 17 years later, those horrific events have been revisited in the book, The Meadow, written by British journalists Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark. It hit the stores in April this year.

The book does not just hint that the government wasn’t keen on mounting a rescue, quoting crime branch sources, it claims it wasn’t al-Faran but forces loyal to the government that had bumped off the tourists with the connivance of the special task force and the Army. The then Narasimha Rao government, the book alleges, wanted to use the hostage crisis as a tool to build international pressure on Pakistan. It says the government had intelligence about the movement of the terrorists and the hostages, including high-resolution images taken by an armed forces helicopter.

In another fantastic claim, the book says when a woman foreign tourist who had seen five hostages being taken away to Aru on July 5, 1995, reported the matter to the nearest Rashtriya Rifles (RR) camp, a major raped her.

It says the RR ran informer networks of surrendered militants (or renegades) and had put in place a cash-for-corpses incentive scheme. The renegades used to be paid between Rs 10,000 and Rs 20,000 per corpse depending on the seniority of the slain militant; but the RR never conducted any physical verification of the bodies, the book says.

In the face of such serious charges, TOI decided to elicit an Army reply. We tried to speak to Major General SL Narasimhan, additional director general public information (ADGPI), Indian Army. We called him up at his office at South Block in New Delhi on July 10 and asked for his reaction on the book. He expressed ignorance about the book and instead asked TOI for details.

After being briefly told about the book’s contents, the Major General said, “Many people will say many things about a lot of issues. That doesn’t mean any of it is true.” He then promised to revert with a specific response after reading the book. We called Maj Gen Narasimhan again on July 12 but his PA said he was busy and asked us to call up after 5pm. When we did, we were told the general had left for the day. We asked for the general’s email ID, which the PA said he didn’t have.

Next, we tried to reach military secretary Lt Gen Syed Ata Hasnain, who was, until June, the general officer commanding of 15 Corps based in Srinagar. The RR — a crack counter-insurgency force — is under the operational command of 15 Corps. Gen Hasnain was unavailable on July 12 and the next day.

We then asked for Gen Hasnain’s staff officer, Colonel Anupam Singh Randhawa. He was available. “I have read the book; but, I am afraid, I cannot say anything about it. You see, I can fix up an interview with Gen Hasnain only if the ADGPI permits. You will have to speak to him about it,” Randhawa said. We turned to the ADGPI and again found him “busy”.

Once again, we asked for his email ID; but this time, the PA asked us to speak to Colonel H Sawhney, director, media. He gave us an email ID and told us he would pass on the message to Gen Narasimhan. So, on Friday, July 13, we sent the email. The reply never came. We contacted the ADGPI again on July 25 to find out if he had read the book and was willing to comment. This time he was “busy having lunch”.

Force – Meadow suggests the unthinkable

In the end it didn’t matter who killed the five foreign trekkers in the Kashmiri paradise. What matters is that those who could have saved them chose not to do so for reasons that can only be termed diabolical. This is the single most shocking conclusion of the 450-page, painstakingly researched and meticulously detailed book, The Meadow, written by Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark.

There are two ways a book like The Meadow can be treated: junk it as far-fetched, or read it to reflect on how we allowed short-term politics to brutalise and dehumanise our people and those who were meant to protect them. If a uniformed person does not flinch killing an innocent, he is a danger even to the institution he represents.

Times of India – Some truths about the ‘Game’ India, Pak played in Kashmir

A diligent, privately religious, Kashmiri friend who spent his life swatting away bungs (bribes) from green, white and saffron money-changers who all sought to attach him to some political or religious cause, once told us the price he had paid for choosing to be neutral in Kashmir.

He had taken a bullet in the lung (courtesy of the HM – who later apologised saying it was a case of mistaken identity). A grenade had been lobbed at his home (by the security forces who never apologised). Then there were the multiple midnight door-knocks (from renegades). His aged mentor, a well-regarded , secular Hindu, had been gunned down in the street (by a sectarian Muslim outfit). A young prodigy had lost a leg when an IED, possibly set by militants, renegades or an army proxy, exploded beneath a car, killing also a young, female colleague . His best friend had been abducted by the Army, and turned up dead in the Jhelum. Every day his practice in Srinagar filled with people who were the living testament to real crimes that would never be solved and whose perpetrators, although frequently identified, could not be prosecuted. MORE

Tribune – the Politics of Killing

On May 1, the Supreme Court of India asked the Ministry of Defence to take a call on whether the six army officers accused of carrying out the “cold blooded murder” of five innocent civilians in the Pathribal village in Kashmir valley should be tried by court martial or in a regular civil court. MORE

DNA – Casualties of a Cruel, Cold War

The book leaves no doubt that the foreigners could have been rescued; indeed, RAW was tracking them for long, continually photographing them and their captors throughout the ordeal. The book makes no equivocations and the evidence is categorical: India allowed those four foreigners to die — yes, it’s now unofficially confirmed what was only suspected the past 16-odd years — so that it could win a major battle in the Cold War against Pakistan. MORE

Bloomberg – Kashmir is Killing India’s Military

In July 1995, an Islamic fundamentalist group called Al Faran kidnapped six foreign tourists, including two Americans, in Kashmir. For a few weeks, the world’s attention was fixed on the Himalayan valley as the allegedly Pakistan-backed militants negotiated with Indian security officials and foreign diplomats. Eventually, one of the Americans escaped. Another hostage, a Norwegian, was beheaded. The other four were never found. “The Meadow: Kashmir 1995 — Where the Terror Began,” a staggeringly well-researched new book by two respected journalists, Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark, concludes that the hostages were killed by local mercenaries funded and controlled by Indian army and intelligence. MORE

Times of India: extract

8 JULY, just after midnight. Was he the only one awake, John Childs wondered. As he lay huddled under a couple of thin horse blankets next to his fellow captives, it was difficult to say. Just like every other night they had endured, the hostages were hemmed in on all sides by clumps of wheezing, scratching and snoring insurgents, more than a dozen men and boys in total. Their Kalashnikovs were stacked against the walls, while they kept their pistols and knives jammed into their waistbands or close at hand throughout the night. The situation was as close to a nightmare as John could imagine, cooped up at uncomfortably close quarters in a pungent, smoke-filled gujjar hut somewhere in the Kashmiri mountains, who knew how many miles from safety, with no sign of rescue. MORE

Rediff – Al Faran’s kidnappings were useful to expose Pakistan’

In an interview with Vicky Nanjappa, author Adrian Levy, who has written three other investigative books, takes us through The Meadow. The book deals with the manner in which the Indian government and the military allowed the hostages to die as part of a larger political game. MORE

Huffington Post

Why do terrorists group behead? “Simply to create terror,” says Adrian Levy, the  journalist and author, whose latest book The Meadow: Kashmir 1995 – Where the Terror Began, charts the true story of a brutal kidnapping in the mountains of Kashmir that, for him, marked “the beginning of modern terrorism”. MORE

Tehelka: Indian Intelligence ran the operation to frame Pakistan, May 5 2012

British journalists Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark specialise in investigative journalism and have worked for UK’s The Sunday Times and The Guardian for nearly 18 years. Honoured with ‘Foreign Correspondents of the Year’ award in 2004 and ‘British Journalists of the Year’ award in 2009, they’ve co-authored three books including the much-admired Deception, exposing America’s covert abetting of Pakistan’s nuclear programme. Their latest book on Kashmir The Meadow—that aims to demystify the fate of several Western hostages in 1995 Al Faran kidnapping—is creating ripples among all social, political and security quarters. In an email interview with Baba Umar, they talk about the kidnapping, the Pakistani plot to it and New Delhi’s sustained efforts at sabotaging the negotiation that led to the killing of four foreign backpackers. MORE




The British Govt. has welcomed the State Human Rights Commission’s order related to 1995 abduction case of foreigners including one British citizen and hopes the proceedings before the commission will culminate into providing justice to the families. MORE



1995, Islamic fundamentalist group Al Faran kidnapped six trekkers in the Pahalgam hills, demanding the release of 21 jailed militants. American and British negotiators descended on New Delhi and Srinagar; bringing a renewed global attention to the situation in Kashmir. MORE


A government human rights commission in Kashmir on Tuesday evening said it will review records from the 1995 abduction of Western tourists after a new book claimed that four of six foreign tourists were murdered by a pro-India militia to discredit India’s arch-rival Pakistan. MORE

Washington Post, April 17, 2012

SRINAGAR, India — A state human rights commission said Tuesday it will review records from the 1995 kidnapping of six foreigners in Indian-controlled Kashmir after a new book alleged that Indian intelligence agents were involved in the deadly crime. MORE

Fox News, April 17, 2012

A state human rights commission said Tuesday it will review records from the 1995 kidnapping of six foreigners in Indian-controlled Kashmir after a new book alleged that Indian intelligence agents were involved in the deadly crime. MORE

Kashmir Life, April 17, 2012.

A stunning revelation made by two writers in a recent book on Kashmir conflict has revealed that four tourists kidnapped to seek the release of Jaish Muhammad chief Masood Azhar were murdered by Indian Army loyalists- the renegades. MORE

New York Times, April 13, 2012

In the summer of 1995, six foreign tourists were kidnapped in a meadow in Kashmir by a group calling itself Al Faran. One, an American, escaped. A second, a Norwegian, was found with his head severed from his body. The other four have never been found, despite a massive cross-border effort involving politicians and intelligence bureaus from the United States, Britain, Germany and India. MORE

New York Times, April 13, 2012.

A Conversation With : ‘The Meadow’ Author Adrian Levy.

By Heather Timmons
Adrian Levy is co-author of “The Meadow,” a newly released book about the 1995 kidnappings of six foreigners in Kashmir and the aftermath. He and Cathy Scott-Clark, both veteran journalists, also have written books about Russian artwork, Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and jade.In “The Meadow,” they examine Al Faran, the group responsible for the kidnappings, and its links to Masood Azhar, a Pakistani cleric jailed in India whose release the group was demanding, as well as recreate the kidnapping and months that the hostages were held. Mr. Levy responded to questions from India Ink by e-mail about the book, and particularly the startling theory that underpins it: that the Indian government and military allowed the hostages to die, as part of a larger political game that was being played in Kashmir at the time. MORE

Hindustan Times, April 6, 2012

Book on foreigners’ kidnapping sparks debate in J-K.

The recently released book ‘The Meadow, Kashmir 1995 – Where the terror began’ has several human rights organization approaching the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) on Friday for its reinvestigation. The book is based on the incident of four foreigners missing allegedly after being kidnapped by militants 15 years ago in south Kashmir. MORE

Sunday Times News Review, March 30, 2012

John Childs’s eyes popped open at 2am. The gunmen, with their straggly beards and turbans, who had abducted him and three other western trekkers from a campsite in Kashmir four days earlier, were snoring next to him. Now was the right time, thought Childs, 42, from Connecticut, as he eased himself out from under a rough blanket.

Lumping some clothes into the shape of a body, he stared at his sleeping fellow captives, their faces pinched by exhaustion. All of them had been frogmarched, vertiginously, for four days, reaching heights of 13,000ft. His fellow American among the group, Don Hutchings, had seemed affable and Childs had also got on with Britons Keith Mangan and Paul Wells in their brief acquaintance. They deserved better, Childs thought, but in this situation it was every man for himself. Childs levered himself onto his feet and pushed aside the tarpaulin door of the shepherd’s stone shelter where they were being held, somewhere just below the snow line in the Pir Panjal, a range that encompasses the troubled Valley of Kashmir. MORE

Tehelka, April 2012

When six foreign tourists were abducted by Al Faran in July 1995 to seek the release of Jaish Muhammad chief Masood Azhar and Omar Sheikh and subsequently four of them were killed—one escaped—it marked a new deadly turn in the armed separatist campaign in Kashmir. Now a human rights group, International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice (IPTK), has filed a petition in the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) seeking fresh probe into the kidnappings after a recent book on Kashmir claimed that the tourists were killed by forces loyal to the Indian Army. SHRC has listed the case for April 17. MORE