India is sending a two-member team to Chile to probe claims that the authorities in Santiago had detained a person wanted in the hijacking of the Indian Airlines aircraft in 1999 to Kandahar.
Sources in the government said on Tuesday the team comprises an officer in the rank of Superintendent of Police of the Central Bureau of Investigation and the one from other intelligence agencies.
The authorities in Chile are reported to have detained Abdul Rauf on the charge of possessing fake travel documents. Rauf is said to be the brother-in-law of Maulana Masood Azhar, one of the three terrorists New Delhi freed in exchange for the passengers held hostage by the hijackers.
The flight, IC-814, was on its way from Kathmandu to New Delhi on December 24, 1999, when it was hijacked. The passengers were held captive for eight days.
Rauf, believed to be the financier of the operation, is also suspected to be one of the key conspirators and according to the sources was constantly in touch with the hijackers.
A Red Corner Notice by Interpol was also issued against him. Born in 1974 in Bahawalpur, Pakistan, Rauf is fluent in Urdu, Hindi and English. He is wanted by the CBI on charges of hijacking, kidnapping and murder.
Establishing his identity in the absence of fingerprints and other data is expected to be difficult for the Indian team.
In the absence of an extradition treaty between the two countries, difficulties may be faced in going through the processes to establish his involvement in the crime.