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December 25, 1999
Hijackers demand once-formidable Kashmiri militant's release
Our Correspondent in Srinagar
Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar -- the hijackers of the Indian Airlines flight IC 814 have demanded his and another militant Zilani's release -- was the chief commander of the once-formidable Al-Umar militant outfit. This outfit had a strong presence in the old town of Srinagar from 1989 to 1993 when militancy in Jammu and Kashmir was at its peak.
Al-Umar was responsible for a series of attacks -- mainly grenade attacks -- on the security forces. They were also involved in the abduction of a couple of politicians. This organisation suffered a serious setback after 1993 when many of its top leaders were killed in police encounters. And the final blow came when their chief, Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar was arrested in 1993 during a raid on a hideout by the Border Security Force at the Alikadal area in the old town of Srinagar.
His arrest was touted as a big achievement by the security officials at that time.
Nothing is known about the other militant whose release too has been demanded. His name has been given simply as Zilani. The only Zilani of prominence related to militancy in J&K is Ali Shah Geelani, the chairman of the All-Party Hurriyat Conference.
Zargar is at present believed to be in the Kotbalwal jail in Jammu.
However, to date no organisation, under the name of the Islamic Salvation Front, has been known to operate in J&K. There was once a militant outfit called the Islamic Front but it is defunct now.
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