Eleven years after the Indian Airlines flight IC-814 was hijacked by six Harkat-ul-Mujahideen terrorists, two clerks from the Mumbai regional passport office and a postman from Navi Mumbai will be prosecuted for allegedly providing Indian passports to two of the six hijackers.
The Bombay High Court recently dismissed an application filed by the trio – passport office clerks Rashmi Kini, 52, and Sudhakar Pawar, 49, and postman Kashirao Dhavane, 49, who allegedly received Rs 300, Rs 1,300 and Rs 100 as bribes respectively.
Kini and Pawar will be prosecuted for allegedly providing the terrorists with passports on the basis of bogus documents and Dhavane for delivering the passports to a non-existent address.
The passport clerks had sought quashing of the complaint against them, contending that they were implicated in the case only on the basis of being receiving clerks on the concerned date and there was no other material to prosecute them.
A single-judge bench of Justice VM Kanade, however, dismissed their plea considering the seriousness of the allegations leveled against them. The judge also took into consideration the fact that charges have already been framed against them way back in 2003, and the trial is about to begin.
On December 24, 1999, the Indian Airlines flight IC-184, which took off from Kathmandu airport, Nepal, with 174 passengers and 11 crew members on board, was hijacked by six armed terrorists and was taken to Kandahar in Afghanistan. Six days after the hijack drama, the Mumbai police crime branch nabbed five people, who during interrogation revealed that one Mumbai Central-based travel agent – Seven Travels – had helped the hijackers obtain Indian passports on the basis of bogus documents.
During investigation, Suresh Bhatnate, owner of Seven Travels revealed that he had paid Rs 300 to Kini for allegedly clearing the passport application of Farooq Abdul Aziz Siddique without verifying the original documents.
While Pawar was paid Rs 1,300 for facilitating issuance of a passport in the name of Sunny Ahmed Quazi, Dhavane had hand-delivered a passport, addressed to Ahmed Ali Mohammed Ali Shiakh, on a non-existent address in Vashi to Bhatnate’s sub-agent for Rs 100.
Subsequently, on January 7, 2000, the crime branch registered an FIR against the trio along with many others, who had allegedly aided the hijackers.
The crime branch has booked the trio on five charges related to forgery and a sixth charge of conspiracy.