Hijacker Ready To Face Trial In India
20 August 2000
Geneva: Holland-based Kashmiri separatist leader Hashim Qureshi who mastermided the hijacking of the Indian Airlines aircraft to Lahore in 1971, has decided to return to India in October to stand trial. ''I am ready to face trial in the hijacking case. I want to go back even if the court awards me death sentence. The case is still pending in the Kotibagh police station in Srinagar,'' 46- year-old Hashim, chairman of the Democratic Liberation Front, told UNI. ''I want to go back to my motherland. At least I want to die in my own land. People send their children to Europe for studies but I am sending my children to Kashmir so that they do not lose connection with their roots,'' Hashim said. Hashim was 17 years old when he, along with his cousin Ashraf Qureshi, hijacked a Fokker friendship aircraft from Srinagar to Lahore. The aircraft was blown up by the Pakistanis and both Hashim and his cousin were taken in a procession from the Lahore airport. He was later sentenced to life by a commission of inquiry set up by Pakistani authorities which investigated the hijacking episode. After spending 10 years in Pakistani jails, he fled to Holland and took refuge there. Asked why he had left Pakistan, Hashim said the ISI was forcing him to influence Kashmiri youth to indulge in militant activities in the Valley.