|HOME | NEWS | NIGHTMARE OF FLIGHT 814|
December 26, 1999
'We have faith in Saran and in God'
Neena Haridas in New Delhi
Ashna and Diksha are playing hide-and-seek with their friends in the Indian Airlines Colony. The little girls are confident that their father, the captain of Flight 814, will come home "tomorrow."
No, there is no pall of gloom at Captain D Saran's house. There is hope. There is confidence. For, Saran has the reputation of being an impeccable pilot.
His wife Navneet is not the picture of a distraught spouse appealing for help. Instead, she sits with her friends and family, sipping coffee. She is the stabilising factor in this household.
They even manage to laugh. Says Amar Inder, Navneet's brother, "We are talking and joking to relax. What else can we do? We have faith in Saran and in God."
Adds Navneet: "When we first heard the news we were shocked and scared. We felt helpless. But then I realised that my husband is an experienced pilot and will not fail in his duty to save his passengers."
"You know what Saran will be doing there right now?" Inder takes over. "He will be joking. He is not the kind to panic."
Saran's colleagues who are at this house giving Navneet company and confidence say they are yet to find a more loveable colleague. "He was admired by everybody in the Airlines" is how they put it.
The 37-year-old has been a pilot for the past 12 years. He is reputed for his skill with the Airbus 300. According to a colleague, Saran has flown many times to the Gulf and is familiar with the topography.
"When we heard that the hijackers had diverted the flight to the Gulf, we knew he would not have much problem communicating with the air traffic controllers in the area or in dealing with the conditions. Most of the civil aviation authorities there have dealt with him before,'' he said.
Which is why his colleagues feel that Saran would have handled 'pilot fatigue' efficiently, despite having to take-off and land four times since he left Kathmandu.
"He has even belly-landed a plane once some years ago. That is why I think the passengers are in safe hands. He is a very confident man and will not let the world down," says Inder.
Interestingly, Amartya Basu, a colleague, had offered to pilot Flight 814 as Saran had just completed a flight to Hyderabad.
Saran, who belongs to Karnal in Haryana, joined the Karnal Flying Institute after completing his bachelor's degree in science from Dayal Singh College, Karnal.
"He wanted to fly like a bird," says Saran's mother, who is glued to the television in her bedroom.
"We don't get any information from official sources. Once in a while the Indian Airlines authorities call up and tell us whatever they know. But we know there can be no fresh news till tomorrow morning because the aircraft cannot take off from Kandahar at night. Nor can a rescue plane go there even if the government is planning any such thing. So all we can do is wait," says Inder.
Navneet is quick to add: "We have nothing against the government. We have no problems, no regrets. We believe that the episode will have a happy ending by morning."
Saran and family were planning to leave for Sharjah on Christmas day. Now Ashna and Diksha hope to do that for the millennium.
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