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December 28, 1999
Afgani's body lies in Jammu graveyard
Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
The body of Sajad Afghani, former chief Commander of the Harkatul Ansar who was killed during a jailbreak attempt in the high security Kotbalwal Jail on July 15 this year, lies buried in the graveyard at Gujjar Nagar, Jammu.
The hijackers are now demanding the return of his body along with the release of 35 jailed militants and $ 200 million.
Afghani, who was arrested in February 1994 along with the general secretary of the Harkatul Ansar, Maulana Masood Azhar Alvi (31), was shifted to Kotbalwal jail after a through interrogation by various security agencies in Kashmir.
The tall and well built Sajad was the first chief commander of the Harkatul Ansar which was formed in 1993 following the merger of the Harkatul Jehadi Islami and Harkatul Mujahideen. Both Afghani and Alvi were in the same barracks from 1997 after Masood Azhar was shifted back to Jammu's Kotbalwal jail after a nearly two-year stay in Tihar Jail, New Delhi.
Both stayed together, along with other Kashmiri militants. However, after the daring jailbreak in February 1999 during which Major Irfan, the main accused in Jammu stadium serial blasts escaped along with two others from the high security Kotbalwal jail, the authorities segregated the Kashmiris and the foreign militants and put them into separate barracks.
However, Afghani and Masood, along with other foreign militants continued their stay in the same barracks.
On July 15, 1999, the foreign militants planned another escape from jail. A group of foreign militants including Sajad Afghani dug a 23-feet long tunnel inside a cell. A few more feet and all of them would have managed their escape, but the jail guards detected the tunnel. In the clash that followed, 11 prisoners, including Afghani, received serious injuries and succumbed in jail.
His body was later taken by the police to Gujjar Nagar, a Muslim dominated locality in Jammu and the locals buried it in the main graveyard.
Meanwhile, a senior state official disclosed that during a routine chat with a jail official yesterday, Maulana Masood Azhar Alvi had said he was not happy with the hijacking of the aircraft and was pained by the agony and difficulties which the passengers may be facing at Kandahar. "I won't like to get released like this," he is reported to have said.
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