CONTROVERSIAL revelations about the kidnapping and murder of a Blackburn student have been revealed in a new book.
Paul Wells, from Feniscowles, was snatched by Kashmiri separatist group Al Faran while on a mountain trekking trip in Kashmir in July 1995.
The Lancashire Telegraph covered the story extensively at the time, including regular interviews with his parents Bob and Dianne Wells, then of Bracken Close, who believed their son was murdered six months after his capture.
A body which was believed to be Paul's was discovered in a Kashmiri cemetery two years after his capture but DNA tests proved it was not his and the whereabouts of his body remained a mystery.
Now a new book, entitled The Meadow: Kashmir 1995 – Where the Terror Began, by investigative journalists Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark, claims Paul and three other hostages were shot and buried by 'Indian-backed' militants near the twin villages of Mati Gawran on December 24, 1995.
A source, who worked alongside the police’s Special Task Force (STF) in Kashmir, told the authors: “We led them into the trees, a good, hard walk behind the lower village. "I remember that the snow was heavy and deep. And there they were shot.
“I did not do it, but I saw it with my own eyes.
“Afterwards, village men were forced at gunpoint to dig a hole down through the frozen earth in which to bury the bodies.”
The book claims that a pro-government renegade, Alpha, or Azad Nabi, who had an alias Ghulam Nabi Mir, had 'bought' the four hostages from Al Faran and held them for months before shooting them.
According to a crime branch detective, the Indian government had not wanted the hostage crisis to end.
He said: “For Alpha, who had become unimpeachable, and a few rogue officers in the STF, who by now were behaving like gangsters, and for a hardline clique of agents in Indian intelligence and the Army, all of whom had come to operate outside the norms and with absolutely no oversight, there had been no virtue in ending the hostage-taking at all.
“This was the harshest version of the Game that anyone could imagine.
“All the time New Delhi said it was trying to crack Al Faran, a group within the intelligence, and the STF was letting them dangle, happy to let the militants portray themselves as savage criminals.”