The father of an Indian killed by terrorists who hijacked an Indian plane to Afghanistan on this day in 1999 wants the killers to hang and wonders why it has not happened so far. “We want the hijackers to be prosecuted in India and hanged under Indian law,” said Chandra Prakash Katyal, who lives with his wife here in Haryana.
And Katyal feels that the Indian political class has failed him and similar victims of terror attacks. His son Rupin Katyal was one of the passengers of the Indian Airlines flight 814 which terrorists linked to Pakistan hijacked on December 24, 1999 after it had taken off from Kathmandu.
Rupin Katyal and his wife Rachna, who married only earlier that month, were returning from their honeymoon when the Pakistan-based militant group Harkat ul-Mujahideen took over the aircraft with 176 people on board. With the then ruling Taliban providing logistic support, the plane was confined to the Kandahar airport where the young Katyal was dragged out and stabbed to death.
The Indian government finally freed three Pakistani terrorists to end the hijack drama. Katyal’s killers escaped to Pakistan but Islamabad has repeatedly denied its involvement in the hijacking. Fourteen years have gone by since the brutal murder but the Indian government’s failure to act against the killers was chilling, said the 71-year-old Katyal.
Katyal says that one reason why terrorists keep attacking India and Indian interests is because Indian leaders lack the will to fight them. “Our soldiers were beheaded and killed on the (Kashmir) border without any reason. But our government welcomes Pakistani leaders (to visit India),” said Katyal. “I lost my only son but I refused to talk to (then Pakistan president) Pervez Musharraf when he came to India because they (Pakistanis) are untrustworthy. I am an ordinary Indian but I have the will to say ‘no’ to injustice. Why can’t our rulers do that?”
Katyal said the spectacular electoral showing by the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi showed that major political parties had failed to prove that they really care for people. “Bill Clinton, the then US president, met me in India in April 2000 and assured me that my son’s killers would be handed over to India but the world’s top power failed to keep its commitment,” he added.
Widow to daughter
Rupin’s widow Rachna was adopted by the Katyals as their daughter and was married again after two years. Rachna is now an assistant manager with Air India. Her husband works as a manager with a multinational company.