Jammu: There isn't any obvious connection between a 19-year-old Scottish tourist who went missing 26 years ago and the head of one of the largest militant organisations in the world. But Kashmir doesn't always work in obvious ways.
Alison MacDonald was visiting the higher reaches of Sonamarg in 1981 when she disappeared in mysterious circumstances. And the case has been unresolved ever since.
But now, Interpol has asked the Kashmir police to reopen their files. Why? Listen carefully to this Syed Salahuddin speech that was delivered after the Kashmir blasts in 2002 — "I direct all the commanders and Mujahideen in the field to break the ceasefire and go ahead along with target-oriented mission and destructive evidence against the enemy."
Interpol believes that the accent and terminology used by the Hizbul Mujahideen chief indicates a close association with someone from the West Coast of Scotland — the same place Alison was born.
"We got a request from the Interpol, London, asking us to look into the case. The parents of the girl had also visited Kashmir several times. They have officially communicated to us that there could be a connection of Hizbul commander. We have asked our field officers to look into the case," says Additonal Director General of Police (CID) Kuldeep Khudha.
Alison's distraught parents have visited the valley several times in search of their missing daughter, but they couldn't find any trace of her.
"She has no reason to die. I believe if Alison had died in the years in between, we would have been told. God doesn't wish that people should suffer unnecessarily. He is not a cruel god like that," says her mother.
The state police is now reopening their investigation into the case and as far fetched as the connection may sound, they say the theory can't be ruled out.
"We cannot say that it is a far-fetched idea. A lead has been given to us and we can only inquire. Once investigations are done, we will know," says Khuda.
As the search for a missing girl comes alive after 26 years, the question is whether the search would finally open more doors or would simply meet a dead end?