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December 27, 1999
Intelligence intercept indicates hijackers will let go off passengers, blow up plane
Josy Joseph in New Delhi
Is the Union government buying time in the belief that no more passengers will be harmed by the hijackers, and that the hostages will be finally let off? The government believes the hijackers, tired and sleepy after three days of continuous vigil, may not resort to any further violence against passengers.
According to authoritative sources, the government has derived its conclusion from certain reliable intelligence inputs received in the past couple of days, after the hijacking of the Kathmandu-New Delhi Indian Airlines Flight 814 on December 24.
According to sources, the Cabinet Committee on Security is in possession of at least one intercept from the Kashmir valley and some inputs from Afghanistan which indicates that the militants may not harm any more passengers.
One particular intercept obtained from somewhere in the valley on Christmas day, is between a member of the Hizbul Mujahiddin and a Lashkar-e-Toiba cadre. The HM member tells the Lashkar activist that the hijackers will not harm any passengers, but blow up the plane after releasing the crew and passengers. The HM leader said the empty plane will be blasted on January 1.
This intercept and other information available have confirmed the involvement of HM groups behind the hijack. The HM, earlier known as the Harkat-ul-Ansar, is headquartered at Muzzafarabad in Pakistan. It has several training camps in Afghanistan near Kandahar, where the plane is presently parked.
Intelligence agencies also believe that Allam Baksh, father of the jailed Harkat secretary general Maulana Masood Azhar, could be the force behind the hijack. Allam Baksh is a rich landlord in Pakistan who is known for his orthodox Islamic views and financial support to militant outfits. He sent his son across to India for the liberation of Kashmir. After Maulana Azhar was arrested in 1994, the father has organised several attempts to get his son out of an Indian jail.
He is suspected of having created Al-Faran, which kidnapped five foreign tourists on July 4, 1995, demanding the release of five militants including Maulana Azhar.
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