|HOME | NEWS | NIGHTMARE OF FLIGHT 814|
January 3, 2000
Mental disorders await hostages, says expert
Neena Haridas in New Delhi
Six-year-old Bhavit Nathani has discovered a new game since his return from captivity. He masks himself and plays 'hijacking' at home.
Amit Jain, another hostage on Flight 814, says his toddler is quite impressed by the militants and has started imitating them.
Thirteen-year-old Arun labels the hijackers as "nice people" while Pooja Kataria, who received a gift from her abductors on December 27, her birthday, says they were "not all that cruel people."
Or is it some other post trauma disorder?
Doctors aren't sure as yet. For a very simple reason: The Indian government hasn't done anything to provide trauma assistance to the passengers or relatives.
"We have not constituted a trauma service squad," admits Sunil Arora, joint director at the civil aviation ministry. "But we have alerted all the hospitals in the city to attend to any of the passengers who might seek help."
"You see," he continues, "when they landed at Delhi we got them examined by a team of government doctors. None of them showed any signs of mental trauma. Those who had physical discomfort were attended to immediately, but none of them really had any major illness."
The passengers and relatives, for their part, are still celebrating their release, and show no signs of trauma -- except of course for the ones mentioned earlier. But Dr Rajesh Sagar, assistant professor at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, feels that's no consolation.
"It is too early to close the file. The post trauma disorders will surface only gradually and start showing in a month or so," he says. "Their experience and fear while on board the hijacked flight would definitely lead to posttraumatic disorders, at least in some cases."
Dr Sagar explains this delay. "The passengers are still celebrating their release. They think it is a second chance that they have got. But there is no denying that all have suffered severe mental and physical exhaustion.
"It maybe true that none has exhibited any signs of trauma as yet, but it will definitely have an impact, especially on women and children.
"As of now, maybe some will display signs of Stockholm syndrome. I understand some of them are kind of enamoured by the hijackers. This could be especially true in the case of children and women."
And true it is, as proven by Arun, Bhavit, Kataria and others.
Dr Sagar has more to say. "This may be the beginning. Children may start behaving strangely or react unhealthily to stress. This is true for women too as they might end up being enamoured by their tormentors. The real picture will emerge once the euphoria is over.
"Some of them might end up with unreasonable fear for planes or travelling. They might not even want to talk about aircraft.
"Some of them might have nightmares or relive the situation again and again, leading to chronic anxiety or depression. These kind of mental ailments will require prolonged medical attention," he concludes.
The Indian authorities, however, are not bothered -- whether due to callousness or mere omission one can't say.
"We got the passengers examined by our team of doctors but nobody seemed to have any problem. After all, we are not a hospital," holds an Indian Airlines official stubbornly.
Sure, point taken. But is he certain the medical examination provided was satisfactory?
Hear what Dr Sanjeev Chibber, whose six-member family was held hostage, has to say: Neither the IA officials nor the civil aviation ministry offered them any medical help on December 31 night.
"No one asked us anything," Chibber claims. "Since I am a doctor myself I have asked my colleagues to give them whatever medical attention they want. The way the government has behaved is shameful."
NIGHTMARE ON FLIGHT 814
SINGLES | NEWSLINKS | BOOK SHOP | MUSIC SHOP | GIFT SHOP | HOTEL BOOKINGS
AIR/RAIL | WEATHER | MILLENNIUM | BROADBAND | E-CARDS | EDUCATION
HOMEPAGES | FREE EMAIL | CONTESTS | FEEDBACK