A special CBI court in Patiala has awarded life sentences to Abdul Latif, Dalip Kumar and Yusuf Nepali who were accused of abetting and conspiring with the terrorists who had hijacked the Indian Airlines flight IC-814 to Kandahar in Afghanistan on December 24, 1999. However, these three are only the support staff of the main conspirators who helped in arranging fake passports, ammunition, shelter etc.
The CBI had charged 10 people out of which seven including the five hijackers are still absconding and are believed to be in Pakistan. An Interpol Red Corner notice has been issued against all the seven. The CBI was also not happy with the trial as it failed to arrest the five hijackers — Ibrahim Athar (brother of Jash-e-Mohammed Chief Masood Azhar), Sunny Ahmed Qazi, S A Sayed alias Doctor, Z I Mistri alias Bhola and R G Verma alias Shakir. The CBI chief Vijay Shankar has also expressed disappointment over a lack of cooperation from the Pakistani front.
There are enough evidences that the main perpetrators are in Pakistan, a fact that Pakistani officials have always denied. Pakistani officials say that their state is fighting against the terrorism; however, they have been extremely uncooperative with the CBI in the hijacking case. There has been a complete silence on this aspect from Islamabad, which has been sent repeated reminders from New Delhi about India’s concern about the hijackers roaming freely on their soil.
Till date, Kabul, too, has turned a deaf ear to the CBI’s requests to hand over the key evidence needed for the investigations. India has failed miserably to apply any diplomatic pressures on Pakistan as well. The three notorious terrorists released in exchange are the mentors of the deadliest terrorist organizations in Paksitan. This includes Masood Azhar, Chief of Jaish-e-Mohammad, Omar Sayeed Sheikh (now in Pakistan prison for killing Wall Street Journal journalist Daniel Pearl) and Mushtaq Zargar, chief of Al-Umar Mujahdeen militant outfit.
Not only the Kandahar accused, even the kingpin of the Mumbai serial blasts, Dawood Ibrahim is also believed to be in Pakistan. Pakistan might be on USA’s good list in fighting terrorism but it has never taken any concrete steps to stop terrorist activities going on in Pakistan soil against India. Recently, Pakistan had announced some major arrests in the international fight against terrorism, including some suspected Al-Qaeda members on the U.S. most-wanted list. Pakistan says the arrests highlight its commitment to fighting terrorism. However, just this week, “The New York Times” reported that elements in Pakistan continue to aid the remnants of the Taliban militia in Afghanistan. Pakistani officials deny those allegations, but the report raises suspicions that no matter how many terrorists it arrests, Pakistan’s involvement in the war on terror is half-hearted, to say the best. New Delhi needs to be more careful and should demand the deportation of the India’s most wanted. Unless and until the “Big Fish” are convicted, this judgment on the hijacking case will just remain an eyewash.