MULTAN/KHANEWAL, Nov 30: As Mumbai struggles to return to normalcy in the wake of terrorist attacks, a Pakistani village named Faridkot is being mentioned in the Indian media as the place of origin of the lone gunman arrested by Indian commandos. He has been identified as Ajmal Amir Kasab.
The media, however, conveniently avoids mentioning that there is also a town with the same name in the Indian state of Punjab.
In Pakistan, there are several villages named Faridkot, but three of them — one each in Khanewal, Pakpattan and Okara — attracted the attention of intelligence agencies and media to ‘prove’ that the terrorist was a Pakistani.
Faridkot in Khanewal, also known as Chak No 90/10-R, is a hamlet on the Jahanian Road, 53km from Multan and has a population of 5,000. This village has one primary school and two mosques — one managed by Barelvis and the other by Shias — and is known for sectarian harmony.
Interestingly, the Indian media is not even sure whether the alleged attacker is named Ajmal Amir Kamal, Muhammad Ajmal, Muhammad Amin Kasab, Azam Amir Kasav or Azam Amir Kasab.
People of this village said there were four people named Ajmal in the village — the one whose name also included Kamal had died 15 years ago. The numberdar of the village, Haqnawaz Baloch, told Dawn that Kamal was son of Muhammad Shafi. Another man named Ajmal had shifted to Ahmedpur East several years ago. The third Ajmal worked in a tea processing factory and the fourth one was a labourer, he said.
He said there was no person by the name of Amin or Azam and did not know what ‘Kasab’ or ‘Kasav’ meant. He said people of the village were peaceful and no one from Faridkot had visited India.
Khanewal police raided Faridkot twice over the past two days to gather details about the alleged terrorist. “We thoroughly checked the village record when Indian media started saying someone from this village was involved in the (Mumbai) attack. The hype is misplaced,” said District Police Officer Kamran Khan. He said police had done the checking on their own, without any instruction from the government.
According to BBCUrdu.com, another village named Faridkot is near Pakpattan. It has a population of 2,000 and most of them are farmers.
Residents say they do not know anyone by the name of Ajmal or Akmal and no one from the village has links with jihadi or other banned outfits.
Another Faridkot is a remote village in Deepalpur tehsil in Okara district.
The Economic Times, an Indian paper, claimed that Azam Amir Kasav, 21, belonged to this village and “speaks fluent English”.
“We can tell you who this man is and how he has become the vital link for investigating agencies to crack the terror plot,” the paper says.