December 2000 News

Qureshi may take part in Kashmir peace process

29 December 2000
The Hindustan Times
Arun Joshi

Jammu: HASHIM QURESHI, who now faces charges of hijacking an Indian Airlines flight, ''Ganga'', in 1971, heads the Democratic Liberation Council. The plane was hijacked to Lahore while it was on its way to Jammu from Srinagar. It is believed that his arrival in Delhi after 30 years is stage-managed to involve him in the ongoing peace process in Jammu and Kashmir. Sources say that when his friends had asked him why he wanted to return, he had reportedly told them that ''I have already undergone punishment in Pakistan and under international norms of law, no one can be punished twice for the same crime''. Qureshi, born in Nowhatta, a downtown locality in Srinagar, was active in politics since his teens. He had joined the BSF, a job he never liked. Ashraf Qureshi was associated with Hashim Qureshi in the hijacking. The duo ordered the passengers to get down at Lahore. They then set ablaze the aircraft in the full view of Pakistani soldiers. Qureshi was tried in Pakistan after the Indo-Pak war. He was charged with being an ''Indian agent''. By the time the Pakistan supreme court dismissed the case, he had already undergone imprisonment for nine years. After the acquittal, he came in contact with JKLF chairman Amanullah Khan. But the two fell out in 1989 as Khan called for an armed struggle whereas Qureshi favoured a peaceful way to resolve the Kashmir issue. Later he shifted to the Netherlands where he formed his own party and started doing business. He has also written about half-a-dozen books. Some of them are: Quest for peace and Behind the veil. Qureshi was feeling homesick and frequently thought of returning to Kashmir. He reportedly told some of his confidants that he would ''like to live and die in Kashmir''.


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