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Wife longs to storm militants's den to free American hostage

Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar

Months of waiting -- for the Al Faran to release her husband -- have turned her nerves into steel. Rumours about the worst have hardened her feelings.

Tears welling up in her eyes, Jane Schelly, Donald Hutchings's wife, gears up for a brave mission -- tracing and rescuing her husband from captivity. Hutchings and four other Westerners, on holiday in the Kashmir valley, were abducted by Al Faran militants on July 4, 1995.

She longs to visit the hilly Inshan and Wadwan villages in Doda district, where the militants are said to be camping with her husband and other hostages.

Fear is now alien to her and she does not care for the state government officials's advice of caution.

Reluctant to grant her the permission to visit the villages, the officials tell her, ''There is no security presence in the villages which are hilly, difficult and remote. These villages remain cut off for nearly seven months during the winter... We have only a few dozen policemen in the Wadwan valley.''

But the school teacher from Spokane is firm on visiting the villages. She told Rediff On The NeT before leaving for New Delhi that she had requested the state chief secretary to convey a message, permitting her trip, to her New Delhi address.

She visited Inshan in July, but only for a couple of hours. The state government helicopter that took her there forced her to fly back.

''I met several villagers including the headman to find clues. They gave me the names of some villagers who could give some important leads,'' she said.

To pursue these clues, she says she plans to stay at Inshan and Wadwan for at least two days.

However, sources said it is unlikely the state government will permit the American to undertake trip, abandoning as it did the idea of assigning local policemen to escort her to the area.

Sensing government hurdles, she may now amend her plans. ''I cannot visit the valley immediately as I have to attend school,'' she said. ''The children there miss me. I may return in the spring if the crisis continues.''

RELATED REPORT: Cops, 'foreign intervention' blamed for Kashmir hostage crisis

EARLIER REPORT: Two years after the abduction of five foreigners from Pahalgam, their fate is still unknown...

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