Civilian authorities in Azad Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday rubbished Indian claims that a 12-year-old boy had crossed over into the Nowshehra sector of India-held Kashmir ‘for the purpose of spying.’ “In a region where inadvertent crossings across the unmarked Line of Control are a regular occurrence, the claim by Indian authorities is simply ludicrous,” said Chaudhry Tariq Farooq, a senior AJK minister.
“It’s ironic that Indian authorities are using inadvertent crossings for further vitiating the already tense atmosphere in the region,” he added.
“But what else can you expect from a country which even considers a bird fluttering over from across the border a spy,” jibed the minister, referring to claims by Indian authorities that they had caught a ‘spy pigeon’ in Pathankot in the northern state of Punjab last year. India’s PTI news agency had quoted a defence spokesman as saying on Saturday that an Indian army patrol along the LoC had apprehended a 12-year-old “intruder” from AJK.
The boy, who they identified as Ashfaq Ali Chauhan, was identified by the PTI as the son of a retired soldier of Pakistan Army’s Baloch Regiment, Hussain Malik, and had crossed over to the India-held side of the LoC late Friday evening in Rajouri district.
“Ashfaq was found moving suspiciously near the LoC and surrendered immediately on being challenged by the Indian Army patrol,” the PTI said.
The Nowshehra sector of Rajouri district faces the Samahni sector in AJK’s southernmost Bhimber district.
Indian media claim Malik is a resident of the Dunger Pel village in Bhimber district.
According to a statement released by Indian officials, “the boy was sent by terrorists in connivance with the Pakistan army to probe a route for infiltration across the LoC.”
“In gross violation of human rights, the terrorists along with Pakistan Army have no compunction in using innocent children to probe through dangerous minefields in a heavily militarised zone on the LoC to ascertain safe passage for the terrorists attempting to infiltrate,” the statement alleged.