IC-814: at Kandahar, a shame story
A Flight 814
The Chronology of Events
· IA Flight 814 takes off from Kathmandu at 1615 (IST)
hours on December 24, 1999. Air traffic control is reported as asserting
that shots were heard on the plane.
· The five armed hijackers make pilot Captain Saran
divert the plane over Lucknow and head for Lahore in Pakistan.
· The Lahore airport authorities refuse to permit
the aircraft to land, forcing it to head back to Amritsar, India.
· The plane lands at Amritsar where the hijackers
demand that the aircraft be refueled. The airport is sealed off.
· The airport authorities send over a tanker for refueling,
but due to some problem they seek that the aircraft be brought closer to
· After a 25-minute wait, the hijackers make the aircraft
take off by killing a passenger, Mr. Katyal and head for Lahore, with just
enough fuel for the trip.
· India persuades the Pakistani authorities to permit
the aircraft to land.
· Lahore airport is sealed off.
· The aircraft nearly crash lands and is surrounded
by Pakistani commandos.
· It is refueled and headed for Kabul. But because
of the lack of night-landing facilities there, and later, at Kandahar,
the plane is diverted towards Dubai.
· It finally lands at the Al-Minhat air force base.
The hijackers demand food, medicines and a step ladder since none is available.
· The UAE officials agree to negotiate if the women
and children are allowed to disembark.
· The hijackers release 25 passengers, and allow the
body of Mr. Katyal to be released to the UAE authorities.
· Early on December 25, 1999 morning, the flight takes
off from Dubai for Afghanistan. At 0855 hours, it lands at Kandahar.
· Senior Indian officials opened talks with the hijackers
to secure the release of hostages.
· Hijackers demand release of 35 other jailed terrorists
besides Mohammad Masood Azhar and US $200 million for the release of 154
· Later hijackers dropped their demands for a $200
million ransom and the exhumed remains of Afghan terrorist Sajjad Afghani.
· Passenger were released on December 31, 1999 after
Government of India releases 3 terrorists.
· January 6, 2000: Hijackers have been identified
as Pakistani nationals with links to ISI, an intelligence organization
of the Pakistan Government.
Al Qaeda hijacked IC-814
to Kandahar, says Osama's former guard
Islamabad | September 17, 2006
Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda
hijacked Indian Airlines jetliner IC-814 to Kandahar, Afghanistan, on the
Christmas eve of 1999 to secure the release of Pakistani militant Maulana
Abu Jandal, a former guard
of Osama bin Laden said this in a one and a half hour documentary aired
on Al-Jazeera Television, reports the Daily Times.
According to the guard,
bin Laden welcomed Maulana Masood Azhar after his release following negotiations
between the Indian government and the hijackers, and threw a lavish party
in his honour.
"After two or three days,
bin Laden invited Azhar to a lavish party, thrown in his honour, where
I was introduced to him. I was astonished to discover that Azhar and Bin
Laden already knew each other," Jandal said.
He further said that on
the day the Indian Airlines jet was hijacked and force-landed at Kandahar,
he was asked to keep the heat-seeking Stinger missiles ready.
"Emergency was declared
at the Kandahar Airport in 30 minutes. I was told that other planes will
also follow this one and there is a chance that the situation could deteriorate,"
IC-814 Captain becomes
a celebrity in India
Devi Sharan with his daughters,
Aashna, 7, and Deeksha, 10.
The hijackers, jumpy and
brusque, shoved the nose of the gun to the pilot's head. Take off in 30
seconds or die, they told him. Then they began a panicky countdown: "30,
29, 28, 27 . . ." When they reached 2, Capt. Devi Sharan opened up the
power on Indian Airlines flight 814 and took off. As the Airbus lifted
into the sky at 7:49 p.m. on Christmas Eve, any possibility that a crack
Indian commando team could storm the plane and try to rescue the 184 passengers
and crew members ended. The jet was leaving Amritsar, in India, and heading
across the border into what many Indians consider enemy territory: Pakistan.
Captain Sharan later recalled
that there were "a lot of different kinds of weapons, different colours
of hand grenades" in the cockpit and "the pedestal was full of bullets.
Indian Airlines Flight 814
(abbreviated IA-814) was a flight that flew from Kathmandu, Nepal's Tribhuvan
International Airport to Delhi, India's Indira Gandhi International Airport.
It was hijacked on Christmas Eve, Friday, December 24, 1999, shortly after
the aircraft entered Indian airspace at about 5:30 p.m. Indian Standard
Time by five Pakistani nationals. The hijackers stabbed to death 25-year-old
Rupin Katyal. Ultimately, the plane landed in Afghanistan, where the hijackers
agreed to release their hostages in exchange for the release of Maulana
Masood Azhar, Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar, and Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh.
The Indian Airlines (now
renamed as 'Indian') flight 814 (VT-EDW) was hijacked on the eve of Christmas
on Friday, December 24, 1999, shortly after the aircraft entered Indian
airspace at about 5:30 p.m. Indian Standard Time. The identities of the
1. Ibrahim Athar from Bahawalpur,
2. Shahid Akhtar Sayed from
Gulshan Iqbal, Karachi, Pakistan
3. Sunny Ahmed Qazi from
Defence Area, Karachi, Pakistan
4. Mistri Zahoor Ibrahim
from Akhtar Colony, Karachi, Pakistan
5. Shakir from Sukkur City
Anil Sharma, senior flight
steward on IC-814, later recalled that a masked, bespectacled threatened
to blow up the plane with a bomb and ordered Captain Devi Sharan to "fly
West". The hijackers wanted Captain Sharan to divert the aircraft over
Lucknow and head towards Lahore, but Pakistani authorities quickly refused
permission as they were wary of being linked with the terrorists. Also,
the fuel was not sufficient. Captain Sharan told the hijackers that they
have to land in Amritsar, India
After landing at Amritsar,
the flight crew were hoping that they will get some assistance and the
hijacking will end. They asked for a sniper or a sharpshooter to go along
with the browser and shoot at the tyres to disable the aircraft. But, for
unknown reasons that could't happen. The local forces at Amritsar were
told to wait for the National Security Guard.
The hijackers asked for
the plane to be refueled, the Indian Government agreed as it would have
given it some time to formulate some strategy. But as the refueling was
deliberately delayed by the Indian Government, after waiting for over 25
minutes, the hijackers became suspicious and ordered the captain to fly
the plane to Pakistan. When the captain didn't comply, they threatened
to kill all the passengers. They stabbed 25-year Mr. Rupin Katyal in chest
a number of times. Rupin Katyal was returning from his honeymoon with his
wife Rachna Katyal. At this stage, a helpless Captain Sharan realized that
there was no action from ATC, the Indian Government or the security forces;
"the browser was not coming in front of the aeroplane and nothing was happening".
He decided to fly to Lahore without refuelling.
As the plane was running
very low of fuel, on Indian government's request, Pakistan allowed the
plane to be landed and refueled. Three hours after landing, the plane took
off towards Afghanistan but as none of the airports were equipped for night
landings, it was diverted to the military base Al Minhat in the United
Arab Emirates. During this flight, Mr. Rupin Katyal passed away. After
landing, the hijackers were asked to release women and children in exchange
for some more fuel, food and water. Some 25 passengers were released along
with the body of Mr. Rupin Katyal.
In the early hours of Christmas
morning, the battered and hijacked plane flew again with a tired crew to
The Taliban authorities
did not cooperate with the Indian authorities to secure a release of the
hostages by disallowing Indian commandos to storm the plane. They refused
the request to let Afghan commandos storm the plane, as well.
The Taliban encircled the
plane with tanks and heavily armed militia. Negotiations opened up between
the Indian government and the hijackers. The government accepted
to release the following terrorists in exchange for the release of the
passengers and crew of the flight IC 814.
· Maulana Masood
· Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar
· Ahmed Omar Saeed
Sheikh (British national of Pakistani origin)
The erstwhile Indian foreign
minister Jaswant Singh had personally gone to Kandahar to take charge of
the situation there.
After negotiations between
the India government, and the hijackers, the remaining hostages were freed.
On December 31, 1999, the freed hostages of the Indian Airlines Flight
814 were flown back to India on a special plane. The hijackers disappeared
into Pakistan in their vehicle before releasing a Taliban official they
had taken hostage
Initial demand by the hijackers
The hijackers initially
demanded the release Mohammad Masood Azhar, who is currently serving jail
sentence in India for terrorist activities. Azhar is a Pakistani national
and is the General Secretary and ideologue of the Harakat-ul-Mujahideen
(HUM), an organization based in Pakistan which was in October 1997 designated
as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the United States Department of
State. The HUM was re-designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization
by the State Department in its latest list released on October 8, 1999
Latest demands by the hijackers
The hijackers of the Indian
Airlines flight IC – 814 have demanded the release of 35 other jailed terrorists
besides Mohammad Masood Azhar and US $200 million for the release of 154
hostages. The hijackers have also demanded that the body of Harkat-ul-Ansar
chief in Jammu & Kashmir Sajjad Afghani be exhumed and the coffin be
handed over to them.
According to news reports,
the hijackers have dropped their demands for a $200 million ransom and
the exhumed remains of Afghan terrorist Sajjad Afghani (06:30 AM EST, December
India released 3 terrorists
for the exchange of the Indian Airlines passengers.
Summary of External Affairs
Minister's comments at a press briefing - December 27, 1999.
The Government of India
continues to monitor the situation.
The Government has shared
with the leaders of political parties in India information on developments
in respect of the hijacking of flight IA-814. The leaders of political
parties said that since developments were taking place at a fast pace,
it was for the Government to decide on shapes should be taken.
The safety and security of the
passengers and crew and, above all, the national interest of the country
remain the two main elements of India's approach. The meeting condoled
the sad and regrettable death by stabbing of Shri Rupin Katyal.
An airplane with essential
materials, doctors, relief crew and a negotiating team is in the process
of leaving for Kandhar. It was our expectation that the aircraft will leave
for Kandhar within the next 2-3 hours. In the course of the last
two days EAM had contacted his counterparts in several countries including
Australia, Russia, Canada, Great Britain, USA,
Switzerland, Italy, Bangladesh
and Nepal to seek their active cooperation on humanitarian grounds.
In response to questions,
EAM said the following:
The Government was aware
of reports of the deadline apparently set by the hijackers. Our direct
contacts with them will enable us to know the exact nature of their demands.
The relief aircraft would have gone yesterday but for procedural difficulties
not on account of the Government of India. The cooperation we are
receiving from the US administration is totally satisfactory. EAM has been
in touch with his counterpart in Pakistan. The Pakistani reaction was that
whatever they do will be within the four corners of the law and transparent.