Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Cuttack, Jun 23:
In a shocking revelation, suspected Al-Qaeda operative Abdur Rehman– who is currently under a 10-day Odisha Crime Branch remand– has confessed that he had given shelter to one of the accused involved in the 1999 Kandahar plane hijack incident.
During interrogation by Crime Branch officials yesterday, Rehman confessed that he had given shelter to one of the hijackers in Cuttack, sources in the investigating agency said.
Rehman was initially reluctant to disclose anything during interrogation. However, after the interrogating officers asked him questions on the basis of information provided by National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Intelligence Bureau (IB), he started revealing many secrets including giving shelter to the accused in Cuttack, sources added.
However, the Crime Branch officials are tight lipped regarding the place in Cuttack where the accused was sheltered.
According to reports, the accused, a Pakistani terrorist, was a close associate of Rehman and after the hijack, Rehman brought him to Cuttack and hid him at a secret place. After Rehman’s revelation about the incident, the Crime Branch has initiated efforts to ascertain the exact location where the terrorist was given shelter.
While interrogating Rehman, the investigators also came to know that he has delivered inflammatory speeches at several places by organizing a program namely ‘Odisha and Jharkhand Jalsa’. The officials are trying to find out the places where he had organized such programs and the persons who had invited him to deliver speeches.
Notably, Indian Airlines Flight 814 commonly known as IC 814 was hijacked by Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, a Pakistan-based extremist group, on December 24, 1999. Hijackers ordered the aircraft to be flown to several locations. After touching down in Amritsar, Lahore and Dubai, the hijackers finally forced the aircraft to land in Kandahar, Afghanistan, which at the time was controlled by the Taliban. The hijackers released 27 of 176 passengers in Dubai but fatally stabbed one and wounded several others.
The motive behind the hijack was to secure the release of some terrorists held in prison in India. The hijack crisis lasted for seven days and ended after India agreed to release three militants – Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and Maulana Masood Azhar. The released terrorists later planned and executed attack on Indian Parliament in 2001 and 2006 Mumbai terror attacks.