Militant involved in Kandahar hijacking arrested in J&K; (Second Lead)

September 13th, 2012 - 6:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Jammu, Sep (IANS) In what has been described as a major catch, top militant commander Mehraj-ud-din Dand, wanted for his involvement in the 1999 hijacking of flight IC-814 to Kandahar and other terror attacks, has been arrested from an undisclosed location on the Jammu-Srinagar highway, a senior police officer said Thursday.

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, whose name has not been revealed, in Nepal 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.”

On Dec 24, 1999, IC-814, with 176 passengers on board, was hijacked by five Pakistani 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 terrorists were swapped for the hostages.

Dilbagh Singh 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 (on Jammu’s outskirts) where he met (United Jehad Council chief) Syed Salahudin and other top militants,” Dilbagh Singh said. He was released from jail in 1990. UJC is the highest decision-making body for all the militant groups.

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 trade,” Dilbagh Singh said.

He said separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani had once helped Mehraj to get a visa for Pakistan.

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.

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