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January 6, 2000
All five hijackers have been identified
The Indian government Thursday announced it had identified the five hijackers of IC 814, all of them Pakistanis.
Home Minister L K Advani, at a press conference in New Delhi, said the photographs of the five men who had commandeered the Indian Airlines plane to Kandahar in Afghanistan had been shown to the hostages who had identified every single one of them.
The hijackers were Ibrahim Akhtar (from Bhawalpur), Syed Akhtar Syed (Gulshaniqbal area, Karachi), Sumi Ahmed Qari (defence area, Karachi), Mistry Zahoor Ibrahim (Karachi) and Shaqir (Sakkar, Sindh).
Advani said the Bombay authorities had arrested four activists of the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen who had provided a support base for the hijackers. With their arrest, the government was in possession of irrefutable evidence and documents that revealed ''Pakistan's neck-deep involvement in the dirty game of hijacking.''
The conspiracy to hijack the aircraft was hatched by the four headed by Abdul Latif from Bombay, two months back. The three others are Mohammed Rehan (Karachi), Mohammad Iqbal (Multan) and Yusuf Nepali (Nepal).
Advani described it as a significant breakthrough in showing Pakistan's involvement in the incident. He said Latif, who had been to one of the Gulf nations and was trained in Pakistan and Afghanistan, took principal hijacker Ibrahim Akhtar from Bombay to Calcutta on November one. From there they went to New Jalpaiguri in West Bengal and then to Kathmandu.
Latif also accompanied another hijacker Shaqir to Nepal on December one via Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh.
Police achieved the breakthrough when they intercepted a message to Latif from a Pakistani contact, directing him to get in touch with a television correspondent and give the information that if the hijackers' demand was not met they would blow up the plane.
The home minister said Pakistan's complicity is borne out by the events that occurred in the course of the hijack episode itself. A little before the departure of IC 814 from Kathmandu, three officials from the Pakistan embassy dismounted from a car and proceeded to the departure lounge. One of them is believed to have supplied RDX to a group of Punjab militants in Kathmandu some years back.
When the hijackers took control of the aircraft and announced that the plane had been hijacked their first directive to the pilot was: proceed to Lahore.
The Air Traffic Controller at Lahore declined to permit the Indian Airlines plane to land but when on its way back from Amritsar, the chief hijacker spoke to the ATC in Lahore and urged him that the plane had to be refuelled. The ATC Lahore then allowed it to land, and provided the fuel.
Out of the 36 prisoners whose release was demanded by the hijackers as many as 33 were Pakistanis, one was a United Kingdom citizen of Pak origin and one was an Afghan. Only one was a Kashmiri Indian. As such, Pak interest in getting these prisoners released is evident, Advani said.
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