“…the three militants planned to abduct the telegenic 37-year-old federal parliamentarian to bargain for the release of scores of imprisoned comrades.”
“Indian police foil plot to kidnap Rahul Gandhi,” from Agence France-Presse:
LUCKNOW, India – Indian police said on Friday they had foiled a plot by Islamic militants to kidnap a top politician reported to be Rahul Gandhi, scion of the country”s famed Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty.
NDTV, one of India’s leading news outlets, said the three militants planned to abduct the telegenic 37-year-old federal parliamentarian to bargain for the release of scores of imprisoned comrades.
Police would not publicly confirm the identify of the politician targeted by the suspected militants arrested after a tip-off early Friday near Lucknow, capital of northern Uttar Pradesh state.
Senior police officer Vikram Singh said the suspects “wanted to kidnap a very, very important political leader… to create national and international pressure to secure the release of 42 terrorists.”
Another senior police official, who asked to remain unnamed, said the men were arrested “following an alert from the federal Intelligence Bureau” that Gandhi was the target.
Police identified the three suspects as Pakistani nationals and named them as Mohammed Abid, Mirza Rashid Beg and Yusuf. The men were caught after a car chase in which their vehicle got caught in a sand pit, police said.
The men were believed to be members of the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed group fighting India’s rule in disputed Kashmir and had received training in Afghanistan and Pakistan-held Kashmir, police said.
They had travelled from Jammu, winter capital of Kashmir, which is divided between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan, and claimed in full by both countries.
They allegedly told police they had been trained how to follow and seize important personalities as hostage.
“These are no ordinary terrorists… we are not going to take them lightly,” said Singh.
A huge cache of arms, including assault rifles, explosives, detonators and grenades allegedly recovered from the three was displayed to reporters.