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IC-814: at Kandahar, a shame story
A Flight 814
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 the tank. 
  • · 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 hostages. 
  • · 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.
    A Flight 814
    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 Masood Azhar.
    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," he said

     

    IC-814 Captain becomes a celebrity in India
    A Flight 814
    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.
    A Flight 814
    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.
    A Flight 814
    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 hijackers were
    1. Ibrahim Athar from Bahawalpur, Pakistan 
    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.
    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.
    In the early hours of Christmas morning, the battered and hijacked plane flew again with a tired crew to Kandahar, Afghanistan.
    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 Azhar (Pakistani) 
    · Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar (Indian) 
    · 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 29, 1999).
     


    Final Solution
    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. 
    A Flight 814
    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,
    A Flight 814
    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.
    A Flight 814
    Rupin Katyal, who was killed by the hijackers, and his wife Rachna at their marriage reception


    Mrs. Rachna  Katyal

    A Flight 814
    Armed soldiers from the Taliban Islamic militia take up positions near the hijacked 
    Indian Airlines plane at Kandahar airport in southern Afghanistan Dec. 30.
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    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.