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Wednesday, March 9, 2022

One of the hijackers of IC 814 shot dead in Pakistan !!

The very mention of those numbers - IC 814 - would rankle badly in memory of every Nation loving citizen and now there are conflicting reports of the bitter incident.  

Christmas Eve, 1999 – the whole World was bracing to celebrate the  millennium ~ Insurers had created scare for themselves with Y2K coverage and endorsement !!! …. Trouble and distress was to descend on India in the form of an aircraft - Indian Airlines Flight 814 (IC 814)  from Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal to Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi was hijacked. Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, a Pakistan-based Islamist group, was accused of the hijacking. 

IC 814 had 178 passengers as the chief hijacker ordered  "fly West". The hijackers wanted Capt Sharan to land in Lahore, but there wasn't enough fuel. Wary of being linked to the hijackers, Pakistan quickly refused permission to land at Lahore. Capt Sharan told the hijackers that they have to land in Amritsar. The merciless mercenaries threatened killing passengers, started with gruesome killing of Rupin Katyal.   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.  After the aircraft landed in Kandahar, Taliban authorities, in an attempt to gain international recognition, agreed to cooperate with Indian authorities and took the role of mediators between the hijackers and the Indian government but there were complications and India felt hard at an alien hostile land ending up freeing terrorists, who are still at large causing further damage to our Nation. 

India's lack of recognition of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan complicated negotiations between Indian authorities and the hijackers. Taliban moved its well-armed fighters near the hijacked aircraft in an attempt to prevent Indian special forces from storming the aircraft. The hijacking lasted for seven days and ended after India released three militants — Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and Maulana Masood Azhar.  The identities of the hijackers according to the Indian Government were: Ibrahim Azhar, Bahawalpur, Pakistan; Shahid Akhtar Sayed, Karachi, Pakistan; Sunny Ahmed Qazi, Karachi, Pakistan; Mistri Zahoor Ibrahim, Karachi, Pakistan and Shakir, Sukkur, Pakistan. 

From Lahore, the  aircraft took off for Dubai where 27 passengers aboard the flight were released. The hijackers also released a critically injured 25-year-old Indian male, Rupin Katyal, who was stabbed by the hijackers multiple times. Rupin  actually died before the aircraft landed in Dubai. Among those released, were Maulana Masood Azhar — founder of  Jaish-e-Muhammed in 2000 which gained notoriety for its alleged role in the 2001 Indian Parliament attack.  After the traded  three militants landed in Kandahar, the hostages aboard the flight were freed. On December 31, 1999, the freed hostages of the Indian Airlines Flight 814 were flown back to India on a special plane.  The three militants were later escorted by Taliban across Pakistani border. Pakistan denied that any of the militants are in Pakistan, but it was discovered later that all three terrorists Maulana Masood Azhar (living in Muzaffarabad, Pakistan), Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh (who kidnapped and killed Daniel Pearl from Lahore, Pakistan) and Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar (also living in Muzaffarabad, Pakistan) were in Pakistan. 

Now read further this update as reported in most major media :  -  One of the hijackers of Indian Airlines flight IC 814, Zahoor Mistry, has been killed in Pakistan, according to media reports in that country. Mistry is reported to have been killed on March 1 by two bike-borne assailants in Karachi’s Akhtar colony. The killing was confirmed by Pakistan’s Geo TV, reporting it as the death of a “businessman” in Karachi. 

Reports also quoted Pakistan intelligence sources as saying that top leaders of terror organisation Jaish-e-Mohammed, led by Masood Azhar, attended Mistry’s funeral. Masood Azhar was among the three terrorists released by the Indian government when IC 814 was hijacked in 1999. Mistry was an operative of the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM), an anti-India terror group operating out of Pakistan and Bangladesh then. He was among the five hijackers of IC 814. The hijackers included Azhar’s brothers Rauf Asghar and Ibrahim Azhar. Both continue to live in Pakistan. 

It was Mistry who was responsible for the only death in the entire episode, that of 25-year-old Rupin Katyal. In order to put pressure on the Indian government to agree to their terms, the terrorists had decided to kill one of the passengers. Mistry had stabbed Katyal in the chest inside the flight, killing him. Katyal and his wife were returning from their honeymoon in Kathmandu. 

Zahoor Mistry Ibrahim, considered the most brutal among the five Indian Airlines flight IC-814 hijackers, was shot dead by two unidentified gunmen in Pakistan’s Karachi on March 1. Ibrahim, a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist, was living with an assumed identity of Zahid Akhund, under the ISI’s protection. Sources said Ibrahim was the terrorist codenamed ‘doctor’ who was wielding an improvised knife with which he had stabbed a passenger named Rupin Katyal inside the hijacked flight, leaving him to bleed to death. Mistry had been lying low for several years, running a shop named Crescent Furniture in Karachi’s Akhtar Colony. The two masked gunmen were caught on CCTV cameras. The footage shows two men on a bike in the lane heading towards the shop. As per local media reports, Ibrahim was shot twice in the head from point blank range by the gunmen who had also carried a reccee of the area before committing the murder, catching the ISI’s officials by surprise.  

The murder was strangely kept under wraps and largely ignored by the local media in Pakistan. One of the channels ran the news as the “killing of a businessman” without giving any details. The news was confirmed after JeM’s operations chief Rauf Ashgar — the brother of ailing JeM founder Masood Azhar — and other top terrorists of the organisation were spotted at the funeral.  

The CBI had filed an FIR in January 2000, naming 10 suspects and filed a chargesheet six months later against Yusuf Nepali, Abdul Momin and Dilip Bhujel for being part of the conspiracy. A year later, the court framed charges but the trial concluded after seven years holding the trio guilty. Apart from these three, seven others, including the five hijackers (all Pakistanis), were named in the FIR as absconding. Passengers told CBI that the hijackers referred to each other with codenames. While the ones named ‘Burger’ and ‘Chief’ were holding a pistol and a hand grenade each, the doctor, aka Zahoor Mistry, was holding the knife. With Ibrahim dead, at least two of the hijackers — Ibrahim Azhar and Rauf — are still alive. One of the hijackers died of multiple diseases while the other came to India again for a second operation and was killed in the Parliament attack in 2001.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
9th Mar 2022. 

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