‘Kandahar hijack suspect arrested’
Mehraj Has Denied Direct Involvement: Police
GK NEWS NETWORK
Jammu, Sep 13: Police Thursday claimed to have arrested a top militant commander Mehraj-ud-Din Dand, wanted for his involvement in the 1999 hijacking of flight IC-814 to Kandahar. Police say Dand was picked up from an undisclosed location on the Jammu-Srinagar highway.
Addressing a news conference here, Inspector General of Police (Jammu zone) Dilbag Singh said Mehraj-ud-Din was arrested Wednesday night after police got inputs that he was on his way from Nepal to the Kashmir Valley.
The militant had close ties with a senior diplomat in Nepal, whose name has not been revealed, who helped him in various activities including hijacking of flight IC-814 in December 1999, the officer said. “Mehraj-ud-Din was main person who arranged for all the logistics for carrying out the Kandahar hijacking. He facilitated the entry of five masked men into the aircraft with guns, knives and grenades and arranged the finances,” Dilbagh Singh said.
Mehraj-ud-Din was taking care of planning and finances. “He was like the top boss giving directions and arranging logistics.” However, the IGP said Mehraj during his initial questioning has confessed that he was aware about the hijacking but denied his direct involvement.
“During questioning, Mehraj-ud-Din also admitted that he had good relations with Hizbul Mujahideen chief Sayeed Salahuddin and during his stay in Pakistan he had met Dawood Ibrahim and also used to visit Dawood’s office in Clifton building Karachi,” Singh said, adding that Mehraj has also informed the police that the prime accused involved in 9/11 Mumbai blast case were also residing with Dawood in Karachi.
On December 24, 1999, IC-814, with 176 passengers on board, was hijacked by five militants and forced to land at three different airports - Amritsar, Lahore, and Dubai - before being taken to Kandahar, the bastion of the then Taliban regime in Afghanistan. In Dubai, Rupin Katyal, one of the passengers, was fatally stabbed by the hijackers.
The aircraft had to spend a week on the tarmac in Kandahar before three militants were swapped for the hostages.
Dilbagh Singh said that Mehraj-ud-Din started underground activities in north Kashmir in 1987. He then joined the first militant group in 1988 and went for arms training to Pakistani Kashmir.
He was arrested in 1989 and lodged in Kot Bhalwal jail and was released from jail in 1990.
He went to Pakistan from the Wagah border about four to five times on fake passports and different identities. “He was expert in making fake passports, which he made for himself and several of his associates,” the officer said, adding that this had been revealed during initial interrogation.
“He has worked for Dawood Ibrahim and was also involved in the Hawala racket,” Dilbagh Singh said.
After 1995, he was mostly operating from Pakistan and Nepal. Police described him as the most wanted and oldest militant, “involved in a number of militancy related activities both in India and outside”.
He was married to a Hindu girl in Nepal who later embraced Islam.
He was associated with all the major militant groups - Hizbul Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Harkat-ul-Mujahideen.
Lastupdate on : Thu, 13 Sep 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 13 Sep 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 14 Sep 2012 00:00:00 IST
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