Decision of Kandahar hijack deferred till Feb 5

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Patiala, Jan 29 (UNI) A special court here today deferred its decision to February 5 to pronounce judgment in the case of the December 25, 1999 hijack of Indian Airlines flight IC-814 flying from Kathmandu to New Delhi in Kandhar, Afghanistan.

The arguments have been completed in the case and the judgment was reserved for today by the court on January 18.

However, Session Judge of Patiala Inderjit Singh Walia, who is the Special Judge in the case, today deferred the decision as the ''case was lengthy'', according to defence lawyer Barjinder Singh Sodhi.

The Central Bureau of Investigation has registered a case against 10 persons but the masterminds behind the IC 814 hijacking were never nabbed. The five main accused were given safe passage during hijacking and two others have been missing.

The CBI, however, nabbed three accused believed to have a hand in the crime -- Abdul Latif, Bhupal Man Damai alias Yusaf Nepali and Dalip Kumar Bhujel, from Mumbai in December 1999 and they have been in Patiala jail since then.

The conspirators have been accused of helping the Pakistani hijackers in procuring fake passports and other papers and also helping them take weapons aboard the aircraft IC-814.

The week-long hijack drama ended with the release of three dreaded terrorists Masood Azhar Mushtaq, Ahmed Zargar and Sheikh Ahmed Omar Saeed.

All 189 passengers on board were let off safely, except two.

Rupin Katyal was killed by the hijackers on day one and Satnam Singh was stabbed nine times but survived. He later left the country.

The case, which has been continuing here since March 2001, saw over 120 witnesses being examined in-camera in the Patiala Central Jail keeping in view its sensitivity.

The CBI has registered cases against the accused under sections 147, 148, 149 of the Indian Penal Code. Cases under sections 302 (for the murder of Katyal), 307 (attempt to murder the passengers and crew), 341, 342 and 365 of the IPC have also been registered.

Besides, they have been booked under the Arms Act, sections 4 and 5 of the Anti-Hijacking Act, and section 120B of the IPC for criminal conspiracy.

Among the 10 accused are Ibrahim Athar of Bahawalpur, Pakistan, who was code named Chief, Sunny Ahmed Qazi alias Burger, a resident of Karachi, Shahid Syed Akhtar alias Doctor, Zahoor Ibrahim Mistry alias Bola (also residents of Karachi) and Shakir alias Shankar of Sukkur, Sind.

Also listed are two close relatives of Maulana Masood Azhar -- Abdul Rauf, his brother, and Yusuf Azhar, brother-in-law.

The remaining three are in Patiala jail.

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