Who is Mehrajuddin Dand
Top militant commander Mehrajuddin 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, a senior police official said Thursday.delhi Updated: Sep 13, 2012 13:07 IST
Top militant commander Mehrajuddin 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, a senior police official said Thursday.
Mehrajuddin was suspected to be involved in many militancy related incidents in India and abroad and amongst the oldest surviving militants, was arrested Wednesday night.
Mehrajuddin alias Javed, a close associate of United Jihad Council (UJC) chief Syed Salahuddin and underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, was arrested during an operation in Kishtwar forest belt, a senior police officer said on Thursday.
Mehrajuddin was nabbed after police got inputs that he was on his way back from Nepal and was on his way to Kashmir valley from the national highway connecting Jammu and Srinagar.
Dand, who belongs to the north Kashmir town of Sopore, joined militancy in 1990 and was suspected to have provided logistical support to hijackers of IC-814 in 1999 and was operating for the last 25 years in the state.
"He participated in action and wielded gun up to 1995 after which he joined elite ranks, which involved planning, arranging logistics and handling militant activities," the official said.
After 1995, he was mostly operating from Pakistan and Nepal. Police describe him as the most wanted and oldest militant, "involved in a number of militancy related activities both in India and outside".
"Mehrajuddin 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 finances for all this," an official said.
Mehrajuddin was taking care of planning and finances. "He was like the top boss giving directions and arranging logistics."
His name had figured in the IC-814 hijack case as he had provided logistic support for hijacking of the Indian aircraft to Kandahar from Nepal, the officer said.
On Dec 24, 1999, IC-814, with 176 passengers on board, was hijacked by five Pakistani militants and forced to land in three different airports -- Amritsar, Lahore, and Dubai - before being taken to Kandahar, the bastion of the 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 terrorists were swapped for the hostages.
The Indian Airlines plane, with mainly Indians passengers, had taken off from Nepal on December 24, 1999 and just as it entered Indian airspace, the militants hijacked it to Kandahar in Afghanistan. The hijackers also killed one passenger.
The hijacking ended when the Indian government released three terrorists including Maulana Masood Azhar and Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh for the safe return of the passengers.
Mehrajuddin was one of the first five militants including Salahuddin who crossed over into PoK in 1987 to get arms training.
He belongs to militancy affected Sopore town of north Kashmir and was a member of UJC, an umbrella group of several militant outfits.
Mehrajuddin has given details to security officials that he was closely related with Syed Salahuddin and Dawood Ibrahim, who figure in the list of 20 most wanted persons India has given to Pakistan.
Mehrajuddin has worked for almost all militant organisations including Islamic Front, Muslim Mujahiddin, Hizbul Mujahiddin and others.
It is believed that he was going to Kashmir as militancy was declining and needed to be revived. "His arrest is a severe blow to militancy and efforts to revive it," a police official said.