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January 8, 2000
Hijack case: CBI team no yet ready
Onkar Singh in New Delhi
Twenty four hours after the Home Ministry handed over the investigations of the hijacking case to the Central Bureau of Investigations, the premier intelligence agency is yet to finalise the team of investigators who would be handling the case.
And that's not all. Insiders say that M L Sharma, director, special crimes, who will head the team, is not the right choice for the sensitive job. "This man has messed up several cases, including that of Priyadarshani Mattoo murder. We would have been happy if CBI had named someone else to head the investigation team," said a source.
However, after the CBI's involvement, the investigations into the case are likely to get a new impetus.
"Keeping in mind that the case has countrywide ramifications, the Union Home Minister L K Advani has asked the CBI to take over the investigations from the Punjab police," a senior official in the home ministry said.
Though the government had made up its mind to hand over the investigations much earlier, the order was held back because at that point of time all other intelligence agencies were providing crucial inputs.
Advani recently flew down to Mumbai to get first-hand information about the arrest of four Inter Services Intelligence operatives linked to the hijacking.
Sources said the arrests were actually made by the Intelligence Bureau, but since the agency tends to keep away from the media glare, the men were handed over to the Mumbai police.
Their interrogation revealed how and when the hijackers had planned the conspiracy to hijack the Indian Airlines Flight 814. The investigators also learnt about the trips made by the hijackers from Mumbai to Kathmandu and how a member of the Pakistan High Commission in Kathmandu supplied arms to the hijackers.
Once back in Delhi, Advani briefed Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and showed him the pictures of the five hijackers.
It was only after the two were convinced that the investigations were on the right track that the home minister decided to go public with the information.
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