Militant involved in Kandahar hijacking arrested in Jammu
In what has been described as a major catch, top militant commander Mehraj-ud-din Dand, wanted for his involvement in the 1999 hijacking of flight IC-814 to Kandahar and other terror attacks, has been arrested from an undisclosed location on the Jammu-Srinagar highway.
Addressing a news conference, Inspector General of Police (Jammu zone) Dilbag Singh said Mehraj-ud-din was arrested on Wednesday night after police got inputs that he was on his way from Nepal to the Kashmir Valley.
The militant had close ties with a senior diplomat, whose name has not been revealed, in Nepal who helped him in various activities including hijacking of flight IC-814 in December 1999, Singh said.
“Mehraj-ud-din was main person who arranged for all the logistics for carrying out the Kandahar hijacking. He facilitated the entry of five masked men into the aircraft with guns, knives and grenades and arranged the finances,” Singh said. Mehraj-ud-din was taking care of planning and finances. “He was like the top boss giving directions and arranging logistics,” he added.
Singh said that Mehraj-ud-din started underground activities in north Kashmir in 1987. He then joined the first militant group in 1988 and went for arms training to Pakistani Kashmir. “Mehraj-ud-din has even worked for Dawood Ibrahim and was also involved in the hawala trade,” Singh said.
After 1995, he was mostly operating from Pakistan and Nepal and had married to a Hindu girl in Nepal who later embraced Islam.
On December 24, 1999, IC-814, with 176 passengers on board, was hijacked by five Pakistani militants and forced to land at three different airports — Amritsar, Lahore, and Dubai — before being taken to Kandahar, the bastion of the then Taliban regime in Afghanistan. In Dubai, Rupin Katyal, one of the passengers, was fatally stabbed by the hijackers. The aircraft had to spend a week on the tarmac in Kandahar before three terrorists were swapped for the hostages.