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India Releases Poems The Norwegian Hostage Wrote Before Dying

August 29, 1995

SRINAGAR, India (AP) _ While he was the captive of Kashmiri militants who would kill him, Hans Christian Ostro wrote poems reflecting his fascination with India, a captive’s despair and the possibility he would die.

``If I should die now, there would come bubbles of the tenderest love to those who shall continue,″ the 27-year-old Norwegian trekker said in one of 13 poems penned in captivity.

``If I die now, then I will not die poor. I have within me many worlds as this one with all its richness, beauties and contrasts.″

Ostro was one of six Westerners, including two Americans, kidnapped nearly two months ago by Kashmiri separatists.

Held under guard in a secluded hut in the Himalayan Mountains, Ostro tucked the poems into his underwear to conceal them from his kidnappers. The scraps of paper were discovered by Kashmiri police after his mutilated body was found Aug. 13.

Some of the poems suggest that Ostro tried to escape and had been caught, said M.N. Sabharwal, director-general of Jammu-Kashmir police. He did not elaborate, and none of the verses released to The Associated Press by police alluded to an escape attempt.

Ostro wrote in his native Norwegian, and the verses were translated into English for police by the Norwegian Embassy. Norwegian officials in New Delhi said they were not releasing any of the poems, which they said belonged to Ostro’s family.

Ostro had traveled to India months before his kidnapping to learn south Indian dancing. After completing a course in southern Kerala state he traveled to Kashmir to see the Himalayas and was abducted from his tent near the resort town of Pahalgam on July 8.

On the 14th day of his captivity, his kidnappers turned over photographs of Ostro dancing in Kerala and a letter to a contact for delivery to Norwegian diplomats. In that letter, Ostro asked the embassy to try to retrieve a diary he left behind when he was kidnapped.

Just weeks later, his body was found. The name of the group that claimed responsibility for the kidnappings, Al-Faran, had been cut into his abdomen, said Sabharwal, the police chief. Al-Faran is one of the many Kashmiri separatist groups fighting Indian forces for the independence of Jammu-Kashmir, the only Muslim-majority state in predominantly Hindu India.

The group was still holding Donald Hutchings, 42, of Spokane, Washington; Keith Mangan, 33, of Middlesbrough, England; Paul Wells, 23, of London; and Dirk Hasert, 26, of Erfurt, Germany.

American John Childs escaped four days after being captured.

Ostro dreamed of his own freedom:

``Free free _ streams of mild light and light from your eyes.

``Free free _ I have the whole universe to breath in.

``Free free _ Take what you want from me.

``Free free _ I am sailing away.″

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