Brijesh Pandey,CNN-IBN, Posted Saturday , April 29, 2006 at 09:22
New Delhi: The hijack of Indian Airlines aircraft IC-814 to Kandahar in December 1999 had seriously embarrassed the Indian government and the security agencies.
And while compromise was reached and the Indian government released the three dreaded militants as ransom for the 166 passengers, there are some victims still reeling under the aftermath.
In a shocking tale of human rights violation, two brothers from Kashmir, arrested from Kathmandu by Indian security agencies for their alleged involvement in the hijack drama, have been missing for over six years now.
Despite having no proof of their complicity, the security agencies, the government, and ever the Human Rights Commission have given no answers to the desperate family looking for their sole bread-earners.
On August 28, 2000, eight months after the hijack drama, brothers Mushtaq and Mohammed Shafi were arrested by Nepal Police and handed to Indian security agencies. They were never seen again.
Travel documents available with CNN-IBN verify that the brothers were leather traders in Kathmandu. A leading Nepal paper The Kathmandu Post also reported the story of 27 Kashmiris rounded up by the Nepal Police, out of which 10 were released and 17 were transferred to India by Nepal Police.
The Shafi brothers were reportedly among those transferred to Indian Police. The nightmare for the family began when police arrested the brothers’ father for two weeks for questioning, but revealed no details about the whereabouts of his young sons.
“The family of these Kashmiris are running from pillar to post. They have not got any information either from the Home Ministry, the Chief Minsiter of Jammu and Kashmir or from the Delhi Police,” Supreme Court advocate Anil Karanwal says.
After months of fruitless search, the family had given up hope of finding their sons, when on November 17, 2005, the government of India admitted that Mushtaq and Shafi were in police custody.
CNN-IBN’s Special Investigation has in its possession a letter written by the Additional Private Secretary of the Home Minister of State, to the Jail Superintendent of Jodhpur asking about Mushtaq and Shafi.
But when the family came to know about the letter and went to Jodhpur in search of their sons, they were appalled by the response of the jail authorities.
“When we went to look for our sons we were told curtly by jail superintendent that if we don’t run away from the place they will arrest us and we will also be lodged in the jail,” Father of the missing youths, Abdul Ahad Rah, says.
Finally, Abdul’s daughter Ruqaiya filed a Habeas Corpus petition in the Supreme Court as the last resort.
The apex court has now directed the Home Ministry to produce Mushtaq and Shafi by the first week of May.
Buut several questions remained unanswered.
It is not clear why such paramount secrecy was maintained over the whereabouts of the boys. It’s also not clear that if the security agencies had evidence against the two brothers, why were they not produced and tried in a court of law.
And if there was no evidence, why had they been picked up in the first place?