In a major breakthrough, Jammu and Kashmir Police has arrested a top militant who is suspected to have provided logistical support to hijackers of IC-814 in 1999 and was operating for the last 25 years in the state.
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.
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.
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.
During interrogation, Mehrajuddin has given details about his relation with Syed Salahuddin and Dawood Ibrahim, who figure in the list of 20 most wanted persons India has given to Pakistan.
Police has described his arrest as a big catch.
Mehrajuddin has worked for almost all militant organisations including Islamic Front, Muslim Mujahiddin, Hizbul Mujahiddin and others.