MAGAM, Aug 3 (1996): Wives of two of four Western hostages seized in Kashmir more than a year ago made a tearful plea to hundreds of villagers for any clues to the fate of their husbands.
Jane Schelley, wife of American hostage Donald Hutchings, and Julie Mangan, wife of Briton Keith Mangan, arrived in the remote village of Magam amid tight security, 13 months after their husbands were abducted in the foothills of the Himalayas.
“We have come to tell you, specially the women, how we feel without our husbands. We ask for your help, we dont know whether our dear ones are dead or alive,” Jane Schelley told a group of nearly 300 Kashmiri villagers.
Hutchings, Mangan and another Briton, Paul Wells, were kidnapped by the shadowy Al-Faran militant group while hitch-hiking in the Kashmir valley on July 4, 1995.
More than 20,000 people have been killed in a six-year-old separatist rebellion in the valley.
Jane Schelley and Julie Mangan were with their husbands but were not taken hostage. Four days later, Al-Faran kidnapped German Dirk Hasert and Norwegian Hans Christian Ostroe. Ostroe was found beheaded last August.
Since then relatives of the hostages have been torn between futility and hope. Some newspaper reports quoting unnamed sources said the captives had been executed, but Indian authorities say they believe the men are still alive.
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