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November 7, 2000
CBI sends team to Dubai to probe hijacking
The Central Bureau of Investigation Monday despatched two senior officials to Dubai to probe the reasons and circumstances leading to the hijacking of the Indian Airlines aircraft on a flight from Kathmandu to New Delhi on December 24 last year.
CBI sources said Special Director R N Sawani and chief investigator M K Narayanan have gone to collect information about the hijackers and the happenings at Kandahar airport.
The sources said the team would return in a couple of days.
India had to release three hardcore Inter-Services Intelligence terrorists for the safety of 152 passengers and crew, held captives at Kandahar in Afghanistan from December 24 to December 31.
The plane was hijacked by five Pakistanis.
The team was sent after clues were provided by the Interpol, which issued a red corner alert notice in several countries, including Pakistan, Afghanistan and Britain for nabbing and extraditing the hijackers.
The agency has completed initial investigations in Nepal and will send its investigators again for detailed inquiries.
Though the five hijackers of the IC 814 are suspected to be hiding in Pakistan, requests were made to the countries where they could be present.
The decision to approach the Interpol was taken about two weeks back, after a special CBI court in Patiala issued warrants against the hijackers -- Ibrahim Athar, Sunny Ahmed Aqzi, Zahoor Ibrahim, Shahid Akhter Sayed and Shakir -- and their accomplices Yusuf Azar and Abdul Rauf, who are believed to the key conspirators in the hijacking drama.
The CBI made the formal request to Interpol for the arrest of the hijackers after completing all formalities and procedure, required in such cases.
The Indian Airlines flight was hijacked soon after it took off from Tribhuvan international airport in Kathmandu on December 24 and taken to Kandahar in Afghanistan after attempting refuelling at Amritsar, Lahore and Abu Dhabi.
The hijack drama ended after the Indian government released three hardcore Pakistani terrorists in exchange for the lives of more than 150 passengers.
Rauf and Azhar are believed to be the brother and brother-in-law of Maulana Masood Azhar, one of three militants released by the Indian government. Athar is said to be a resident of Bhawalpur, while other hijackers belong to the port city of Karachi, information available with the CBI indicated.
The Special Investigating Team of the CBI, headed by CBI Joint Director (Special Crime) M L Sharma was slated to visit Kathmandu and Dubai to establish Pakistan's suspected involvement in the hijacking episode. The bureau has informed the Nepalese government that it alone would like to carry out the probe.
The attempt of the agency was to acquire 'clinching evidence' against Pakistan for proving its role in the hijacking.
Investigators are also likely to visit Amritsar where IC-814 was first taken for refuelling. Information from some police officials from Amritsar has also been sought regarding the case, the sources said.
Besides, the CBI is awaiting the response of the Nepalese government, which has been approached by the Indian government to facilitate interrogation of the airport officials regarding the hijacking.
All investigating agencies - the CBI, Research and Analysis Wing and Intelligence Bureau -- are involved in the probe. Besides, the help of the National Security Guard and the Ministry of Civil Aviation is also being taken.
Abdul Latif alias Patel, Bhupalmar Damai alias Nepali, Dalip Kumar and Balal, a suspected Bangladeshi have been arrested in connection with the case and have been remanded to judicial custody.
Latif and Nepali are alleged to have provided logistical support to the hijackers and helped them procure Indian passports.
Bhujel had helped the hijackers procure arms used for the hijack. The role of Balal is being ascertained.
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