indian army
(Representational image)Representational image | Reuters

The defence ministry has clarified that a jawan feared to have been abducted in Jammu and Kashmir is safe. It was reported on Friday evening that Mohammad Yasin Bhat, a soldier part of the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry (JAKLI) division, was abducted by militants in Budgam district. The ministry has now said the news is incorrect and that the soldier is currently on a month-long leave. The earlier reports had said Bhat, 27, was abducted by unknown gunmen from his house in Qazipora village in the Chadoora district of Kashmir.

However, the jawan's family had claimed that he was taken from his own house. According to a Times of India report, eyewitnesses too said that gunmen came in a car which was registered in Poonch.

In the statement, the Ministry of Defense said: "Media reports of the abduction of a serving Army soldier (Mohammad Yaseen) on leave from Qazipora, Chadoora, Budgam (J&K) are incorrect. Individual is safe. Speculation may please be avoided." The statement added that Bhat is on leave from February 26th to March 31st and is 'fine at home'.

defense ministry tweet

When the news of his abduction came out, the district police launched a search for the jawan. Police and army personnel descended upon his village and the area was thoroughly searched.

This is not the first case of soldiers being abducted by militants in the Kahsmir Valley. In 2018, Sepoy Aurangzeb of the JAKLi was murdered after being abducted. In 2017, Lieutenant Umer Fayyaz was kidnapped and killed. According to TOI, they both were on leave when they were abducted. The 25-year-old Aurangzeb, who was from Poonch, was abducted in Pulwama and 22-year-old Umer was kidnapped from Shopian.

The situation in Kashmir has been volatile since February 14, when a suicide blast in Pulwama killed over 40 CRPF jawans. Since then, security has been ramped up in the state. On March 7, Thursday, a grenade blast rocked the Jammu bus stand. The blast, which killed two civilians, was allegedly planned by the Hizbul Mujahideen terror outfit. The Jammu and Kashmir police had arrested the man who lobbed the grenade and he is allegedly connected to the Mujahideen.