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Even as India and Pakistan wrangled over the nationality of a militant captured after a deadly attack in Udhampur, Hindustan Times spoke on Thursday to a Pakistan-based man who identified himself as the “unfortunate father” of the attacker.
“I’ll be killed. The Lashkar is after us and the fauj is after us,” Mohammad Yakub told Hindustan Times in chaste Punjabi when contacted on a phone number disclosed to interrogators by the arrested gunman Mohammad Naveed.
“You are calling from India. We’ll be killed. I am the unfortunate father,” said Yakub, who sounded flustered when he answered the call from HT.
“The Lashkar is after us. They probably wanted him dead and not caught alive. Please spare him,” Yakub said, referring to the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the Pakistan-based militant group behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
The call was made at 1.22 pm and lasted a minute and 20 seconds before a frightened Yakub hung up. The phone has been switched off since then.
Naveed, who also goes by the name Usman Khan, was caught by villagers on Wednesday, hours after he and an accomplice ambushed a Border Security Force truck, killing two troopers. He told interrogators that he came from Pakistan to “kill Hindus” and that “it’s fun doing this”.
Naveed also told his interrogators that he belonged to the LeT.
Pakistan has said Naveed is not its citizen, but Indian authorities dismissed that claim on Thursday.
“We have seen media reports and cannot respond on that basis. We expect the Indian authorities to share information on claims being made in the media,” a Pakistan foreign office spokesperson said.
Sources in Pakistan’s National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) told local journalists that their records have revealed that Naveed was not their national. Pakistani officials termed India’s claims of Naveed being a resident of Faisalabad in Pakistan as “unwarranted and unsubstantiated’’.
Pakistani journalists were stopped from going to towards Ghulam Mohammadabad locality in Faisalabad, an address provided by Naveed.
After the Mumbai attacks in 2008, security agencies had thrown a cordon around Ajmal Kasab’s village. A team of reporters from Geo TV, a private news channel, had used a spy camera to speak to Kasab’s father. Geo and other newspapers that had reported on Kasab’s Pakistani identity were labelled ‘anti-national’.
India will take up Pakistan’s denial of Naveed’s citizenship at the meeting of National Security Advisors. Pakistan’s NSA Sartaj Aziz and his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval are slated to meet later this month to “discuss all issued related to terrorism” as agreed upon in a joint statement issued in Ufa, Russia following a meeting between prime ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif on July 10.
Since the Ufa meeting, India has objected to various ceasefire violations and infiltration attempts and also seen two militant attacks: in Gurdaspur on July 27 and in Udhampur on Wednesday.
Catching Naveed alive bolsters India’s contention that Pakistan continues to allow its soil to be used to export terrorism.
Members of the village defence committee and local police had captured Naveed on Wednesday after an attack on a BSF convoy on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway. His accomplice was killed by an alert BSF jawan who opened fire after the bus they were travelling in came under attack.