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December 26, 1999
They were called Burger, Doctor, Duphtar...
Josy Joseph in New Delhi
They are reportedly six in all. Three of them are called Doctor, Burger and Duphtar. The leader of the gang, who is reportedly the brother of dreaded Harkat-ul militant Maulana Masood Azhar, is in the cockpit directing the pilots across nations and comes out only rarely.
As the released passengers of Flight 814 recollect their more than
12-hour ordeal, several earlier notions about the hijacking, the identity of
the hijackers and the murder of Rupin Katyal have been dispelled.
As the released passengers of Flight 814 recollect their more than 12-hour ordeal, several earlier notions about the hijacking, the identity of the hijackers and the murder of Rupin Katyal have been dispelled.
Geeta Baisla, the 25-year-old wife of an employee at the Indian embassy in Kathmandu, vividly recollected the ordeal before her release in Dubai on Saturday morning. rediff.com spoke to her at her home on Sunday.
I was sitting in a 4-seat cluster with my child. The take-off from Kathmandu was peaceful and we had started having our snacks when the incident began. About half an hour after the plane took off, suddenly, these people got up and started shouting that they had hijacked the plane. Two of them were shouting from the rear, two from the front. I think there were two more people in the business class.
They were shouting in Hindi, "Hum is plane ko hijack kiya hai." They then asked us to draw blinds over all the windows and to look down. We were asked to put our heads down. Several of us were looking all around, confused due to the noise. I too looked back. They shouted at some men not to turn around. Immediately after that, they started running all around.
We had no idea of what was happening. Soon the hijackers ordered the airhostesses to blindfold all the men. Women were asked to blindfold themselves with their chunni etc. I think there was one or two more of them in the cockpit. At least once before we got down from the aircraft, a person who was acting like their boss came out of the cockpit. He was well dressed, in a tie and suit.
They should have been in the 30, 35 age group. But their faces were not visible, as they were wearing monkey caps. Only their eyes were visible. Immediately after taking over the aircraft, the hijackers asked all the people sitting in the business class to come to the rear, and sit in the economy class. Men were asked to vacate the front rows of the economy class. Then women and children were asked to come to the front rows of the economy class. I was sitting in the second row.
They also collected all our hand baggage and dumped them into the business class area. Before this, they asked us to stop having snacks, and everything was dumped into the trolleys and they were pushed away.
When the children and some others started crying they assured us that they would not harm us.
I saw two small kitchen knives, a couple of pistols and some hand grenades with them. They were talking to each other in code words. I remember one was called Burger, another Doctor and a third was called Daphtar.
They had asked us not to speak to each other. I was speaking to my child who was crying. One of them walked up to me and asked, why he was crying. When I said he was hungry, they got him some milk. But it was cold.
From the back, one old man was screaming. "Yeh kya kar rahen ho?" the hijackers shouted back. But they were nice with the women and children.
Each time the plane landed at an airport, we became happy. We thought we are going to be set free. But then the plane took off, and we became tense again. This went on for long. I did not understand where we were, because we were not told where we were landing each time.
As time passed, the children started crying. The milk had turned cold, and there was no sugar. I think it was because the children were crying that women and children were let off. When they asked us to come forward at Dubai, we did not realise that we are going to be let free. They said women and children would be seated in the business class. But then we were asked to step down.
When we came out of the aircraft, we saw men wearing long white dresses, and first did not know whether we should enter the bus which we were asked to. But finally we boarded the bus, when they assured us we are safe.
We did not know which country it was. We were frightened. But later, they told us it was Dubai and we were safe.
We did not realise they had killed one of us. We saw them taking him along with some others to the business class. He was walking slowly, they pushed him saying "Chal, khada ho ja, chal.
After sometime, a Kashmiri woman who was among us asked one of the hijackers what had they done to him. "Maine itna bola chup hone ke liye. Baar baar bola chup ho jao, sunta nahin. Abhi tho chup ho gaya." It was about half an hour before we landed at Dubai.
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