NEW DELHI - Police in Indian Kashmir have arrested a militant suspected of involvement in the 1999 hijacking of an Indian passenger plane that was flown to Afghanistan, a government spokesman told AFP Thursday.
Mehrajuddin Dand, alias Javed was arrested by police in Kashmir's Kishtwar district on Thursday morning, ending a near 13-year-old pursuit of the militants behind the high-profile hijacking.
The New Delhi-bound Indian Airlines aircraft with 157 people on board was seized and flown to the southern Afghan city of Kandahar by five men after it took off from the Nepalese capital Kathmandu on December 24, 1999.
Kuldeep Singh Dhatwalia, a spokesman for the home ministry told AFP that Dand was arrested in the morning and that the "initial investigation reveals that he provided logistical support to the hijackers".
Media reports said that Dand had provided assistance and fake travel documents to the five hijackers, none of whom were apprehended by police after the incident.
Dhatwalia said Dand moved across the border between India and Pakistan for years until police nabbed him.
"He is being questioned in a number of other cases as well, but we cannot reveal those details yet," he said.
The 1999 hijack crisis ended after India's then Hindu nationalist government swapped three Islamist militants imprisoned in New Delhi for the captives.
India and Pakistan have fought three wars since independence in 1947, two of them over the Himalayan region of Kashmir, which is divided by a heavily militarised Line of Control and which both countries claim in full.
Last year they resumed their tentative peace process, which collapsed after Islamist gunmen from Pakistan killed 166 people in Mumbai in November 2008.