The Meadow: Kashmir 1995 – Where the Terror Began

The Meadow: Kashmir 1995 – Where the Terror Began
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They have come in search of many things – nirvana, exhilaration, a sense of self. But over the course of the next week, their holidays take a terrifying turn when they become entangled in a nail-biting hostage drama that will suck them into an alien world of jihad and Islamic fundamentalism. In the months that follow, their fates will become caught-up in a bloody struggle between India and Pakistan, fought out in the airless heights of Kashmir.With the world looking on, four of the captured travellers will vanish off the face of the earth, never to be seen again, creating one of the region’s great mysteries.Written with access to diaries, letters, unprocessed film and personal recollections from those enmeshed in the drama, drawing on classified police reports and secret tape recordings of Indian government negotiations, as well as interviews with the jihadis themselves and excerpts from their journals, Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark’s book is a real-life thriller, a startling but compelling story told from the perspective of all involved.The Meadow charts how the fates of two groups of young men from different hemispheres became inextricably entwined on the mountain trails they followed. It tells of the terrifying escape of one hostage, the heart-rending secret letters another wrote on birch bark and hid in his clothing as he contemplated his situation, and how, with a brutal beheading, the kidnappers took an irreversible step into the abyss.Packed with explosive revelations, The Meadow provides the first definitive answers as to what happened to the missing backpackers, revealing how the kidnapping of July 1995 changed the face of modern jihad, its architects going on to sow the seeds of a cold-hearted war against the West.

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The Meadow

Terrorism, Kidnapping

and Conspiracy in Paradise

For all of the injured, the dead and the missing

The headlights filled the road. Everyone cried

out for mother and father’s love and as the

doors to the ascent opened the ballad began

again. For his disappeared love he went from

hole to hole, grave to grave, searching for the

eyes that don’t find. From gravestone to

gravestone, from cry to cry, it went through

niches, through shadows, and it went like this.




Title Page


List of Illustrations


South Asia

Central Srinagar

Southern Kashmir and Doda District

Trekking and Pilgrimage Routes in Kashmir Valley

Anantnag District

6. The Night Callers

7. Up and Down

8. Hunting Dogs

9. Deadline

10. Tikoo on the Line

11. Winning the War, Call by Call

12. The Golden Swan

13. Resolution Through Dialogue

14. Ordinary People

15. The Squad

16. The Game

17. The Goldfish Bowl

18. Chor-Chor Mausere Bhai (All Thieves are Cousins)

19. Hunting Bears

20. The Circus

Epilogue: Fill Your Arms with Lightning

Picture Section


A Note on Sources

About the Authors


By the Same Authors


About the Publisher

1. The route to the Meadow, photographed by Hans Christian Ostrø shortly before he was kidnapped. (Marit Hesby)

2. Julie and Keith Mangan and Catherine Moseley trek towards the Meadow in early July 1995. Photo by Paul Wells. (Bob Wells)

3. Cath, Keith and Julie trek towards the Meadow. Photo by Paul Wells. (Bob Wells)

4. Setting up camp en route to the Meadow. Photo by Paul Wells. (Bob Wells)

5. Hans Christian Ostrø being made up for his kathakali dance graduation show in Sreekrishnapuram, May 1995. (Marit Hesby)

6. Ostrø on board Montana houseboat, Dal Lake, Srinagar. (Marit Hesby)

7. The Heevan Hotel in Pahalgam. (Courtesy Conveyor magazine, Srinagar)

8. The wives and girlfriends of the kidnapped men leaving the first press conference at the Welcome Hotel in Srinagar on 13 July 1995. (Agency photo)

9. Rajinder Tikoo, Inspector General of Crime Branch at the time of the kidnappings. (Undated photo, courtesy Kashmir Times)

10. Members of the al Faran kidnap party. (Courtesy Maqbool Sahil)

11. One of the first hostage photographs, taken by al Faran outside the herders’ hut from which John Childs had escaped in the early hours of 8 July. (Agency photo)

12. Lt. General (retired) D.D. Saklani, Security Advisor to the Governor of Kashmir. (AP)

13. John Childs reunited with his daughters on 15 July 1995. (Agency photo)

14. Childs shortly after his rescue. (Agency photo)

15. A picture of the hostages and their captors that was delivered to the Srinagar Press Enclave on 14 July 1995, shortly before the first deadline expired. (Marit Hesby)

16. Hostages photographed inside an unidentified herders’ hut, probably in the Warwan Valley. (Marit Hesby)

17. The Warwan Valley, where the hostages were held for eleven weeks. (Authors’ archive)

18. Sukhnoi village. (Authors’ archive)

19. Indian security forces question shepherds about the whereabouts of the hostages. (AP Photo/Qaiser Misra)

20. Don Hutchings, supposedly injured following a botched Indian security force operation. (Authors’ archive)

21. Hans Christian Ostrø’s corpse at Anantnag police station in south Kashmir. (Marit Hesby)

22. The hostages soon after they arrived in the Warwan Valley. (Marit Hesby)

23. Two views from Mardan Top, at the southern end of the Warwan Valley. (Authors’ archive)

24. David Mackie and Kim Housego were seized by Pakistan-backed militants in June 1994 and held for seventeen days. (AP)

25. Letter written by Hans Christian Ostrø to his family and the Norwegian Embassy shortly after his capture. (Marit Hesby)

26. Ostrø arranged for several batches of photographs, on which he wrote cryptic clues as to the hostages’ condition and location, to be smuggled out of the Warwan. (Marit Hesby)

27. The contents of Hans Christian Ostrø’s money belt, recovered from his tent at Zargibal. (Authors’ archive)

28. Press conference given by Jane Schelly and Julie Mangan, Srinagar, July 1995. (Authors’ archive)

29. Photograph of Paul Wells thought to have been taken in the wooden guesthouse in Sukhnoi village, Warwan, where the hostages were kept for several weeks. (Bob Wells)

30. Photograph taken by al Faran in August 1995 that served as a prelude to ‘proof of life’ conversations that followed. (Authors’ archive)

31. In the years following the kidnapping, the families of the hostages announced several rewards for information leading to the return of their loved ones. (Bob Wells)

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