India refuses to agree to ransom call
Kashmir crisis: 13 die in blast at Srinagar barracks as fate of Western hostages looks grim
Tuesday 05 September 1995
The last radio contact that Kashmiri kidnappers holding four Western tourists made with an Indian negotiator on Sunday lasted 30 seconds, long enough for the abductors to hear that India has not agreed to their ransom demands.
Since then, the Al-Faran rebels' radio silence has been ominous. "We're at a delicate stage," said one Indian police official. "It could go either way. They could free the hostages or, just as easily, carry out their threats to kill them."
In Kashmir's capital, Srinagar, yesterday, two cars packed with 50kg of explosives blew up on a busy street next to an Indian security forces' barracks. Nine soldiers and four civilians died and 30 others were injured in the blast, for which a Kashmir Muslim group known as Hezbul Mujahedin claimed responsibility. The street is a frequent target for the Muslim militants; Kashmiris who can recognise the signs of an impending ambush know when to steer clear of the area. The use of car bombs, however, gave no warning to passers-by.
In the complex mosaic of Kashmir militancy, in which some insurgents are fighting for independence from India and others for unity with Pakistan, it is possible to find two Muslim militant groups who are bitter rivals, despite being at the same end of the political spectrum. Hezbul Mujahedin and Al-Faran are both fighting to drag Kashmir over to the neighbouring Muslim state of Pakistan, but despise each other.
Along with nearly all militant groups in this troubled Himalayan region, Hezbul Mujahedin classes Al-Faran astraitors for having kidnapped two Britons, an American and a German, swinging world opinion against the Kashmiri separatist struggle.
The grim turn to the hostage negotiations seems to have arisen because neither the Indians nor Al-Faran have budged in nearly two months. Al- Faran insists that in exchange for the hostages' lives, India must free at least four jailed Kashmir insurgent commanders. After initial signs that it might do so, Narasimha Rao's government has toughened its stand against the rebel kidnappers. The main opposition party, the right-wing Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party, along with the Communists, warned Mr Rao that he would face a roasting if he traded Kashmiri prisoners for the Westerners.
Instead of releasing the prisoners, the Indians are reportedly prepared to offer guarantees of safe passage to the 15 Al-Faran gunmen holding the four Westerners - Britons Keith Mangan, 33, from Tooting, south London, and Paul Wells, 23, from Nottingham, as well as a German and an American. "Until now, Al-Faran have been extremely unreasonable," said one senior Indian official. The group accuses Indian authorities of stalling.
Prospects of a rescue raid on the kidnappers' hideout - thought to be somewhere in the mountains of southern Kashmir, near Anantnag - have also dimmed. Not only would such an assault endanger the hostages' lives, but the Indian army is reported to be angered by the presence of more than 60 foreign "anti-terrorist experts" in Kashmir. This force, said to include men from the SAS as well as German commandos, is now camping at a secluded army base near Srinagar. The Indian press reported that the highest ranking Indian officer in Kashmir, Lieutenant-General Surinder Singh, handed in his resignation to the Prime Minister in protest over the blow to the army's "prestige" in letting in foreign commandos. Mr Rao refused the general's resignation, but the hostage negotiations have taken on a political slant inside India which he cannot ignore.
- 1 Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Driving while dehydrated can be just as dangerous as drink driving, study suggests
- 4 Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
- 5 One Direction: Louis Tomlinson launching his own record label, has already 'signed two acts'
Isis video purports to show beheadings and execution at gunpoint of 30 Ethiopian Christians and destruction of churches in Libya
Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
Professional big game hunter Ian Gibson crushed to death by elephant during hunt
Driving while dehydrated can be just as dangerous as drink driving, study suggests
Ben Affleck asked TV chiefs to hide slave-owning ancestry, new hacked Sony emails published by Wikileaks claim
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...