"Mysterious" Death of a former Kashmiri Militant
By Ilyas Khan: BBC News, Karachi : June 20, 2007
A former Kashmiri militant has been killed escaping arrest by security personnel in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, eyewitnesses say.
But officials in the regional capital Muzaffarabad, deny the man, Bashir Ahmad, was being arrested. One told the BBC that he had committed suicide.
The incident sparked protests by a pro-peace group of former militants, of which Mr Ahmad had been a member.
They say Pakistan's ISI intelligence agency was behind the incident.
A top police official in Muzaffarabad, Dr Liaquat, told the BBC that Bashir Ahmad had committed suicide by jumping into the Neelum River.
He said police had fired tear gas shells to disperse a protesting crowd following Mr Ahmad's death, but denied knowledge of the demonstrators' demands.
However, Jamil Mirza - the president of the Jammu-Kashmir United Haqiqi Movement (UHM), a group of former militants who gave up the armed struggle and now advocate peace between India and Pakistan - said the group was demanding that Mr Ahmad's body be handed over to them.
Eyewitnesses said Mr Ahmad was picked up by the intelligence personnel from a restaurant at about midday on Monday.
He jumped from the vehicle at a traffic jam on Neelum Road and escaped towards the river.
"He was followed by an armed man in plain clothes who fired a couple of shots," said one eyewitness, Fazal Mehmood Beg, an activist of a local student union.
"I don't know if Mr Ahmad was hit, but I heard the gunshots, and I saw the man with the gun, wearing plain clothes, who walked up to the road and left with the police and the intelligence people who had rushed to the spot."
The body was recovered from the river and taken to the Combined Military Hospital in Muzaffarabad.
"I believe they carried out an autopsy on the body, and then buried it in a military area. They neither gave us the body, nor the autopsy report," says Jamil Mirza.
Bashir Ahmad, 28, was a resident of Fatehgarh village in Baramullah district in Indian-administered Kashmir. He joined the armed insurgency against India and crossed over into Pakistani-administered Kashmir in the early 1990s.
For the past four years, he had been living in Muzaffarabad as a refugee and a member of the UHM.