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December 28, 1999
Public opinion against succumbing to hijackers' demands
Various sections of the society, including some Muslim organisations, Kargil war victims and relatives of the passengers on board the hijacked Indian Airlines Airbus, oppose giving in to the hijackers demands, saying it would adversely affect the morale of the army and security forces.
The hijackers of the Indian Airlines plane are demanding the release of the Harkat-ul-Ansar militant Maulana Masood Azhar who is lodged in a Jammu jail.
More than a hundred activists of the All India Shia-Sunni Front held a demonstration in New Delhi on Tuesday denouncing Pakistan's role in terrorist activities in India and also in the hijacking, particularly in the month of Ramzan. They shouted anti-Pakistan slogans and asked the government not to give in to the demands of the hijackers and release the militant from the Jammu jail.
The activists who wanted to hold a demonstration in front of the Pakistan High Commission were stopped at the Teen Murti, about a kilometre away. Later, a five-member delegation presented a memorandum to the Pakistan High Commissioner, condemning his country's role in spreading terrorism.
Relatives of the Kargil war victims also urged the government to deal with the hijackers sternly and not give in to their demands. V N Thapar, the father of Lieutenant Vijayant Thapar who was killed in action in Kargil, said succumbing to the demands of the hijackers would send a wrong signal to the enemy country.
''We have all the sympathy with the hostages and their relatives but succumbing to the demands of the hijackers will be giving a wrong signal to the enemy country (Pakistan),'' he said. He said they too had suffered during the Kargil conflict. This was the time when the government's hands needed to be strengthened.
Most of the relatives of the hostages are also opposed to giving in to the hijackers demands. However, some of them say that the life of a militant was not more important than the lives of 158 people.
Dr Sanjeev Chhibber, whose six relatives are on board the hijacked airliner, preferred a commando action to save the hostages after taking the Taliban government into confidence.
When asked wouldn't the action put the lives of the hostages at risk and whether they (the relatives) were prepared for that he said ''even a rat fights back when he is pushed to the wall.''
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