Army, Police Hunt Deserter In J&K, LeT Offers Reward

9 March 2009
Asian Age

Srinagar: Indian Army units and the state police have launched a massive manhunt across Jammu and Kashmir to apprehend a deserter, Zaffarullah Parray, a resident of Doda’s Behlulia village, who fled his military post with two AK assault rifles and one Insas rifle and some ammunition. The police and the Army are also trying to verify reports that he might have joined the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba. The militant outfit, meanwhile, announced a cash reward of Rs 1.5 lakh for the Territorial Army jawan who deserted his unit in Doda over the weekend. LeT spokesperson Abdullah Ghaznavi, speaking to local news agency CNS over the telephone from an unidentified location, said the outfit 'salutes him (the trooper) for his courage and bold decision taken purely in the broader interest of the Kashmiri freedom struggle.' He said the LeT will give him a reward of Rs 1.5 lakh 'in appreciation of his daring move.' The LeT called on other Kashmiri Muslims serving in the Army and security forces to follow in the deserter’s footsteps and join the militants 'as you can’t be part of a campaign aimed at shedding the blood of your own brothers and sisters.' In Jammu, Army officials said Parray had been serving in the TA for the past four to five years, in which time there had not been a single complaint againt him of any anti-national activity. The defence spokesperson, Lt. Col. Biplab Nath, said: 'Our priority is to seize him. He is an offender, and whether he has joined A or B group is premature to say... We are in fact not aware of that.' He also said the deserter had only taken his service weapon, an Insas rifle.