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Kandhar hijack ‘suspect’ arrested
Family baffled, confusing versions of location of arrest surface
JAMMU, Sep 13: Police claimed to have arrested a suspect for his involvement in the much publicised 1999 hijacking of flight IC-814 to Kandahar (Afghanistan).

Addressing a press conference here today, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Jammu zone, Dilbag Singh said that on specific inputs, police arrested Mehraj-ud-Din alias Javed son of Gulam Ahmed Din, resident of Sopore, Wednesday night from an undisclosed location on Jammu-Srinagar national highway, when he was on his way from Nepal to the Kashmir valley.

However, sources asserted that he was nabbed from near Jammu on September 9 and was in custody of Special Operation Group (SOG) since then. Police was planning to show his arrest from Kishtwar forests.

IGP asserted that Mehraj-ud-Din, during interrogation, confessed that he was aware about the plane hijacking but denied his direct involvement. He has also admitted to have good relations with Hizbul Mujahidin head Syed Salaudin. During his stay in Pakistan, IGP said, he had met underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and also used to visit latter’s office in Cliffton Building Karachi. He also maintained that the prime accused involved in 9/11 Mumbai blast case, were also residing in Dawood’s office in Karachi, IGP claimed.

“Mehraj-ud-Din had close relations with a senior diplomat of some country in Nepal, who had helped him in securing six fake passports and had also helped him in various activities including hijacking of flight in year 1999. Din was the main accused who had arranged all logistics for carrying out Kandahar hijacking, besides facilitated entry of five masked men into the aircraft with guns, knives and grenades. He also arranged the finances,” Singh asserted.

Jammu zone chief said that Mehraj-ud-Din started underground activities in North Kashmir in the year 1987. He joined the first militant group in 1988 and went for arms training to Pakistan. He was arrested in 1989 in Kashmir and was lodged in Kot Bhalwal Jail where he came in contact with Syed Salahudin and other top militant commanders. He was released from jail in year 1990 and he had joined Hijbul-Mujahidin outfit and went to Pakistan from Wagah border. In 1995, he met Javed Gurjai, joined Islamic Front and started living in Saharanpur and Delhi, Singh maintained.

In 1997, he went to Karachi and when he returned along with his associate Alen, the latter was arrested and Mehraj-ud-Din fled to Nepal. Din was married to a Hindu girl in Nepal who later embraced Islam. Explaining about the motive behind Mehraj-ud-Din’s arrival to Jammu and Kashmir, Dilbag Singh said that either he had come to the state for raising funds or for reviving militancy in state. He used to help the people to send them to Pakistan for arms training or help in receiving the militants coming from Pakistan, IGP maintained.

However, brother of the arrested suspected ultra said the Javed was suffering from brain tumour and he had come to India from Nepal, where he was staying for several years, for treatment. Mehraj-ud-Din's elder brother Abdul Rashid, who lives in Sopore, told news reporters that he was staying in Nepal for about 15 years where he has a daughter. He had come to India for treatment. However, he was arrested on his way to Srinagar on Sunday, he said.

"He had moved to Nepal because he had a tumour problem ...I told him to come back because the treatment was not helping him ...and he disappeared on his way back here near Katra," Rashid said. When Din arrived in Jammu on Sunday, he called his family in Sopore. "We waited for two days. Finally, we called on the driver's mobile number and he informed us that Din was arrested on the Jammu-Srinagar highway by the Katra police," Rashid said.

According to a news report in a national daily, The family of Mehraj-ud-Din, who is believed to have a role in the 1999 hijacking of an Indian plane, on Thursday claimed he would frequently visit home in north Kashmir's Sopore district.

"Last time he visited Sopore was in the autumn of 2010. He (Din) stayed with us for some time," said Abdul Rashid, elder brother of Din, who was arrested in Jammu on Thursday.

Din, a resident of Sopore's Krankshivan Colony, 55 km north of Srinagar, was first arrested under the Public Safety Act (PSA) in 1992 for "subversive activities" and was later released in 1995.

"On the insistence of the family, Din left for Nepal," said Rashid. Since 1995, when he established his business, Din visited his Sopore village a number of times, according to the elder brother.

Meanwhile, Police is claiming to have arrested him during an operation in Kishtwar forest belt.

IGP Dilbag Singh averred that they have also informed the National Investigating Agency about the arrest of prime suspect of Kandahar hijacking.

On December 24, 1999, IC-814, with 176 passengers on board, was hijacked by five Pakistani militants and forced to land in three different airports - Amritsar, Lahore, and Dubai - before being taken to Kandahar, the stronghold of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. 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 terrorists were swapped for the hostages.

News Updated at : Friday, September 14, 2012
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