When Saifuddin Soz's daughter Nahida was kidnapped by Kashmiri terrorists
By claiming that the first choice of the Kashmiris is independence, former Union minister and senior Congress leader Saifuddin Soz today took a stand similar to one taken by terrorist and separatist outfits since 1989. Aided and supported by Pakistan, the terrorists had launched a series of attacks in the Kashmir Valley in the late 1980s and through 1990s.
Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) and its factions were at the centre of terror activities in Kashmir Valley back then. Apart from attacks on Kashmiri Pandits, kidnapping and targeted killings were the most common methods of the terrorist groups during those days.
Two kidnappings made maximum noises in national dailies. The abduction of Rubaiya Sayeed, the daughter of the then Union Home Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, in December 1989 was the first high-profile case of kidnapping. The second such incident happened two years later.
On 27 February 1991, the Jammu and Kashmir Students' Liberation Front (JKSLF) kidnapped Nahida Imtiaz, the daughter of Saifuddin Soz. The JKSLF demanded the release of five terrorists put in jail by the security forces.
Kidnapping To Derail Talks
Saifuddin Soz's daughter was kidnapped soon after the pro-Pakistan Jamait-e-Islami (JeI) expressed willingness to hold talks with the government. This was the first time when a secessionist outfit was ready to hold dialogue with the Indian government.
Jamait-e-Islami was on wane but still commanded influence in the Valley. This alarmed outfits like Hizbul Mujahideen, JKLF and JKSLF.
To derail the dialogue between the government and the secessionists, the JKSLF kidnapped Soz's daughter Nahida. Saifuddin Soz was then a leader of the National Conference of Farooq Abdullah and a member of the Lok Sabha.
Demand for the release of militants in exchange for Saifuddin Soz's daughter brought back the memories of Rubaiya Sayeed's kidnapping.
Rubaiya Sayeed's release was secured six days later after the VP Singh government freed eight militants including Sher Khan, Noor Mohammed Kalwal, Altaf Ahmed and Javed Ahmed Jargar - all trained by Pakistan. Jargar was later involved in the highjack of IC-814 plane in December 1999.
Saifuddin Soz And Security Forces
Between the two high-profile kidnappings, the security forces had developed their own strategy of securing release of a prominent personality of Jammu and Kashmir from the custody of militants.
They had just achieved success in getting the then Srinagar deputy commissioner's son Ghulam Abbas freed from JKSLF custody without acceding to its demands. The police got hold of JKSLF deputy chief Javed Shalla and secured the release of Abbas in return for Shalla.
In the case of Soz's daughter Nahida, the security forces adopted the same strategy. They captured one of the kidnappers, Mukhtar alias Omar Kachroo's brother.
But Soz panicked after Mukhtar called up at his home threatening to kill Nahida if his brother was not freed. Soz prevailed upon the police to release Mukhtar's brother.
Saifuddin Soz's Daughter Freed
However, the security forces did not immediately budge. They launched a massive man hunt conducting raids at JKSLF hideouts. Meanwhile, people's anger was rising against JKSLF and other militant groups for targeting women. Under pressure, terror outfits like Hizbul Mujahideen and JKLF slammed JKSLF for kidnapping Nahida.
Finally, JKSLF climbed down from its demand for the release of five militants. The then Union minister Subramanian Swamy (now BJP MP) claimed in an article in 200 that "her release was obtained within a week and without any quid pro quo by tactics that have to remain secret for now."
Some news reports, however, claimed that the Chandrashekhar government released secessionist Mushtaq Ahmed in exchange for the release of Saifuddin Soz's daughter.
A kidnapper, Mohammed Yasin Bhat was arrested and tried in a special CBI court. The court found Bhat was sentenced to six years of rigorous imprisonment under sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA).