Seized Pics Were Of VDC Members'
20 August 2005
The Daily Excelsior
New Delhi: The mysterious photographs seized from Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh were of some Village Defence Committee (VDC) members from Jammu and Kashmir and it had inadvertantly reached the studio, the Army said today. 'These photographs are of members of the VDCs. These were taken in Surankote area of Poonch district in Jammu and Kashmir in the first week of July,' an Army official said here thus seeking to put an end to the controversy. VDCs comprise local people who fight militancy along with Army and other security forces in Jammu and Kashmir. The Army official said the VDC members had gone to Surankote in Jammu and Kashmir for 'operational requirements' when they took these photographs. A junior commissioned officer (JCO) of the unit noticed the VDC members clicking the photographs and stopped them. He confiscated all the film rolls and handed them over to his unit commander Major Amit Aggarwal, who hails from Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh and came on annual leave from July 18 to August one. 'By mistake, he brought the rolls along with him and left them at his house. Finding the rolls in the house, Aggarwal's sister sent them for development,' the official said. When they found the pictures in newspapers this morning, she and her parents went to the local police and told them about the sequence of events, he said. Under suspicion that the 36 photographs were of Kashmiri militants, UP Police had yesterday sealed the Muzaffarnagar studio and arrested its owner Pradeep Tyagi and his associate Amrish. During interrogation, they disclosed that the film was delivered by a woman from Deoband identified as Vandana. Some of the photos seized show men against a hilly backdrop with AK-47 assault rifles in hand and carrying wireless sets.