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January 5, 2000
Nepalese authorities lukewarm towards hijack probe
Onkar Singh in New Delhi
The Nepalese authorities are not extending full cooperation to Indian agencies which are probing the hijacking case, sources in Indian intelligence agencies say. They also revealed that the five Inter Services Intelligence agents arrested in Bombay on December 30 have crucial links to the hijackers.
A senior official in one of the intelligence agencies said that the issue of "not getting full cooperation from the Nepalese agencies" has been brought to the attention of the "higher ups."
"The interrogation of the five ISI agents has been able to give us some headway into the investigation," the sources said. "We have caught the right people at a crucial time,'' they claimed.
The sources also said that not much should be read into the anonymous phone call by one G Lal, claiming to be a joint secretary of home ministry, because "after television channels flashed phone numbers of Amritsar airport, several phone calls were received by all of us as well." He said the callers advised puncturing the tyre, poisoning the hijackers etc, and "nothing much should be read into it."
Among the angles being probed by the intelligence agencies is one regarding a claim that the first secretary of the Pakistan embassy in Kathmandu, Mohammed Arshad Cheema, drove into the Tribhuvan International Airport in an embassy vehicle (42 CD14) with his assistant Zia Ansari and handed over a bag allegedly to the hijackers. Cheema is believed to be an ISI official posted in Kathmandu.
Meanwhile, the report put out earlier by a private TV channel about the hijackers walking into Flight 814 from a parked Pakistan International Airlines aircraft has been totally disproved. The PIA flight, it is now known, took off from Kathmandu at least six hours before the Indian Airlines flight.
NIGHTMARE ON FLIGHT 814
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