Kandahar hijack case: Pak still sheltering accused

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New Delhi, Feb 5: Ruing lack of international cooperation against fighting terror, the CBI today said its work was inconclusive in the 1999 Kandahar hijack case despite a court handing down life sentences to three accused in the case.

''Until there is international cooperation, success in the war on terror will remain elusive,'' CBI Director Vijay Shankar told the media, adding ''We are not satisfied with today's development.'' ''The work remains incomplete as seven of the ten accused are still in Pakistan, which is refusing to cooperate in bringing them to book.'' ''We have received no cooperation from Pakistan authorities to bring the seven accused under the ambit of law even after we had pursued through diplomatic and other channels,'' he added.

The conspiracy was hatched in Pakistan by Pakistani men, which involved four countries. While the cooperation of the governments of Nepal and UAE was exemplary, there was no cooperation from Pakistan due to its close relations with the then Taliban government in Afghanistan.

''Even the FBI of the United States, which is conducting the investigation into the case as American national was on board the hijacked plane, is yet to complete its probe despite all cooperation from our side,'' said the CBI Director.

It was surprising why it (the FBI) had not completed the investigation till now. The CBI had even called on its Director and Deputy Director on the issue as late as November 2007.

Mr Shankar asserted the cooperation of the international community was essential for the success against terror.

The CBI Director was responding to today's decision of the special court in Patiala, which sentenced three accused in the infamous hijacking of Indian Airlines flight IC-814 from Kathmandu to Kandahar in Afghanistan on December 24, 1999 to life imprisonment. Sessions Judge Inderjit Singh Walia, who is also Special Judge in the case, sentenced Abdul Latif, Bhupal Man Damai alias Yusaf Nepali and Dalip Kumar Bhujel to life term under Sections 302, 307, 363, 342, 467 of the IPC, under Section 25 of Arms Act and Sections 4 and 5 of the Anti-Hijacking Act and under Section 120B of the IPC for criminal conspiracy.

The trio, which was nabbed from Mumbai in December 1999, had since been in Patiala jail.

While handing down the sentence under Section 302 and the Anti-Hijacking Act, the Judge sentenced the three to seven years imprisonment.

They were sentenced to five years imprisonment and fined Rs 2,000 each under Sections 363 and 467. The trio was also given seven years imprisonment under Section 342 and fined Rs 2,000 each.

Besides, Yusuf Nepali and Dalip Kumar Bhujel were sentenced to three years imprisonment under Section 25 of the Arms Act and Section 120-B. The Arms Act and Section 120B was dropped against the third accused, Abdul Latif.

The Judge, however, dropped Sections 326, 458, 471 and 323 of the IPC and Section 27 of the Arms Act, which were also mentioned in the FIR registered by the CBI.

According to Mr M Narayanan, DIG (CBI) and investigating officer in the case, the CBI had sought capital punishment against the accused as one person was killed during the hijack.

Defence lawyers Barjinder Singh Sodhi and H V Rai said they would appeal against the verdict in the High Court and claimed many of their witnesses were not called during the in-camera trial held in the Patiala Central Jail.

The CBI had registered a case against ten people in connection with the case. In December 1999, the CBI nabbed three accused -- Abdul Latif, Bhupal Man Damai alias Yusaf Nepali and Dalip Kumar Bhujel -- from Mumbai. However, the brain behind the 1999 hijacking was never nabbed.

The conspirators were accused of helping the Pakistani hijackers in procuring fake passports and other papers besides helping them take weapons aboard the hijacked aircraft.

The week-long hijack drama ended with the release of three dreaded terrorists -- Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar, Sheikh Omar Saeed (both Pakistani nationals) and Al Umar chief Mustaq Ahmed Zargar (an Indian national - born in Jammu and Kashmir).

All 189 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.

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

Among the ten 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 (all 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).

UNI

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