The army today said the involvement of a few locals from Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch, who are accused of helping terrorists in a recent attack, is “unbelievable. A defence spokesman praised the role of people in the region for always fighting “shoulder to shoulder with the army irrespective of their caste and religion”.
The statement comes a day after a video surfaced in which a man appealed people to support the army before he died by suicide. Mukhtar Hussain Shah had alleged harassment and torture by the police during his questioning in connection with the investigation into a terrorist attack in Poonch last week.
“In the recent attack on an army truck, a few names of some in the community have come to the fore, which is unbelievable. Hence, people of this area should keep away from such type of activities in future,” the spokesman said.
The police said they have arrested six people for providing logistics to terrorists and detained over 200 from the region for questioning in connection with the attack. Five soldiers were killed in the ambush by terrorists, who are believed to be Pakistani nationals. They also looted the weapons of the soldiers after the attack.
Mukhtar Hussain Shah was among the locals who was called for questioning by the police. On Thursday, he died by suicide in a hospital.
Before the incident, Shah recorded a 10-minute video in which he appears to be upset for being treated as a suspected terrorist supporter. He talked about his family having always supported India. “It’s the same family which is being harassed and tortured,” he said in the video.
He also asked locals to support the army and fight against terrorism. His death has triggered protests in the area.
In a statement, the army reached out to the people of Poonch and appreciated their support during historic battles fought in 1948, 1962, 1961 and 1999.
“Whenever anyone tried to spread unrest in this area, people have fought shoulder to shoulder with the Indian Army,” the statement said.
The spokesman said Pakistan never wants an atmosphere of peace in Jammu and Kashmir, and after revocation of Article 370 under the Constitution, “Pakistan doesn’t want peace and government formation in Jammu and Kashmir”.
The army said “after recent attack by the PAFF (Peoples Anti-Fascist Force) in which five soldiers laid down their lives, all communities in Poonch like Gujjars, Baketwal, Muslims and Hindus showed their anger on the incident and protested against it.”
Former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has demanded a probe into the death of Mukhtar Hussain Shah.
“Hundreds of people have been detained and tortured in the name of investigation. Why should Mukhtar Shah commit suicide? Who was filming him when he made the video before he committed suicide?” Ms Mufti said.
She alleged many others have been tortured by the police and security forces, and two of them have been hospitalised.
Ms Mufti said the people of Rajouri and Poonch are peace-loving and they have never supported terrorists. “Are you (security forces) deliberately suppressing people of the region and pushing them to the wall?” Ms Mufti said.