New Delhi: Stepping up its efforts to extradite IC-814 hijacking mastermind Abdul Rauf to the country, India is sending a team to Chile to confirm the identity of the arrested man.
As per reports Tuesday, the two member team- one officer each from both the RAW and CBI - will press for the extradition of Rauf, who is a Pakistani, to India based on the Interpol Red Corner notice against him in connection with the hijacking of Indian Airlines plane from Kathmandu on December 24, 1999.
Rauf is the brother of Mualana Masood Azhar, amongst India’s most wanted terrorists. Azhar was among the three terrorists exchanged for 154 passengers after eight-days of negotiations carried out at Kandahar, a city in Southern Afghanistan.
Azhar is the founder of the militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and is said to be operating from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Rauf is said to have taken command of Jaish-e-Mohammed in 2007 after Maulana Masood Azhar went underground.
Reports further said that the two-member team will be flying to the Chilean capital fly Santiago via New York.
The Indian team has a tough job at hand as they will have to substantiate the basis on which India had got the Red Corner notice issued against Rauf to make their case credible. The job gets tougher as India and Chile don’t have a mutual extradition treaty and hence Chilean laws will also have a bearing on how things work out for India.
However, what may add credence to New Delhi’s case is that the United States Treasury had designated Azhor a terrorist in December 2010.
Yesterday, there were reports that Chilean police had sent Rauf’s finger prints for verification but the CBI expressed its inability as neither Rauf`s picture nor his finger prints was available with the investigation agency.
India is banking upon the confessional statement of one of the conspirators currently in custody, Abdul Latif, who has revealed that Abdul Rauf and Yusuf Azhar, brothers of Maulana Masood Azhar had travelled to India and Nepal several times to fine tune the hijack conspiracy.
It was in July, 1999, that the hijack plot took concrete shape after several rounds of secret meetings.
In August, Ibrahim Attar (or Chief), the second brother of Maulana Masood Azhar, informed Abdul Latif about the plan and the forged passports and travel documents for the five hijackers were arranged.
Another accused Dilip Bhujel had already delivered the guns and grenades via the Kalingpong route. A crucial meeting between the gang took place in the Kathmandu Zoo on December 13, 199, where Latif was told he would not be on the hijacked plane but should remain as the gang`s point-man in Mumbai.
Thereafter, the hijackers moved to their base in Kathmandu but kept in touch with Abdul Latif, who, in turn, relayed the messages to Abdul Rauf in Karachi. On the fateful day too, the hijackers kept informing him when they cleared security for boarding IC-814 or when they were in the waiting lounge.
It was the telephone call made by Abdul Rauf to Abdul Latif, asking him to call up the BBC offices in London and give details of the hijacking, which were intercepted and the arrests were made.
Meanwhile, Pakistan is keeping mum on the identity of Rauf and has not confirmed his nationality by claiming that the Chilean government has not yet contacted them.