December 2001 News

Court releases Kashmiri hijacker on bail

15 December 2001
The Times of India

SRINAGAR: A Kashmiri airline hijacker who surrendered in 2000 was granted interim bail by a court in Kashmir on Saturday.Hashmi Qureshi, who hijacked an Indian plane to Pakistan in 1971 and then blew it up, surrendered to the police in New Delhi on December 29 last year after returning from The Netherlands.He was later handed over to the Kashmir police, which had registered a case against him in 1971 after he hijacked Fokker-Friendly Indian plane to Pakistan from Srinagar.The court released him on 50,000-rupee ($1,050) bail until March 31, but told him not to leave Kashmir during the period and not to indulge in activities ''prejudicial to public order''.Qureshi''s hijacking in 1971 was a factor in sparking a war between India and Pakistan, their third since their independence from Britain in 1947.He was arrested by Pakistani authorities in 1971 and jailed for nine years, after which he shifted to Holland.''I am happy that I will be a free man after 30 years of pain and agony,'' Qureshi said over telephone from a police jail after the court decision.Qureshi, a co- founder of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front that launched an armed struggle, said he regretted hijacking the plane.''Non-violence will take us to our goal,'' he said.Qureshi in 1994 launched his own movement, the Democratic Liberation Party, and calls for Kashmir to become a country independent of both India and Pakistan.


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