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The BBC's Khalid Javed
"Captain Sharan said he thought he had no option but to crash-land the plane in Lahore"
 real 28k

Owen Bennett-Jones in Islamabad
"The Indians believe these hijackers are in Pakistan"
 real 28k

Sunday, 2 January, 2000, 07:35 GMT
Hijack pilot tells of eight-day terror

Plane taking off The Indian Airlines plane finally leaves Kandahar

The pilot of the Indian airlines plane seized by hijackers has told of the eight days of terror endured by the 155 passengers and crew at the hands of their captors.

Hijack Special Report
Captain Devi Sharan recounted the events as the political row over the crisis deepened with Pakistan denying Indian suggestions that the hijackers had escaped to Quetta in Pakistan.

Capt Sharan said that he and his crew had been in no position to attempt to overpower the hijackers. "I saw they had a real revolver, I could see the bullets inside," he said.

The situation worsened after the gang stabbed to death one of the passengers in the early hours of the hijacking.

"They said they had tied four or five passengers ... they said 'We will kill them,'" Capt Sharan said, adding, "I was scared."

As the hijackers disappeared after releasing their hostages on Friday, Capt Sharan also said the aircraft, originally flying from Nepal to Delhi, was down to its last 90 seconds of fuel before Pakistani authorities reluctantly allowed it land at Lahore airport.

Describing how he and his flight crew considered the prospect of attempting a crash landing, Capt Sharan said: "I thought that we had no option. We had no fuel."

Hijackers slip away

The hijackers, who had been given 10 hours to leave Afghanistan following the resolution of the crisis on Friday, disappeared without ever having their identities revealed.

End of a crisis
India releases militants
Indian foreign minister takes militants to Kandahar
Hijackers leave plane with Taleban official
Hostages leave plane
Hostages return to India
Taleban impose 10-hours exit deadline
The BBC's Islamabad correspondent, Owen Bennett-Jones reports that militant sources say that the hijackers are expected in Pakistan-administered Kashmir within days - only accessible via Pakistan itself.

India's Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh said that its initial inquiries suggested that the hijackers had fled to Quetta in Pakistan.

But Pakistan has said that the hijackers are neither Pakistani nationals nor in its territory and said that Delhi was making "baseless accusations".

It added that it did all that it could have done throughout the ordeal to ensure the safety of the passengers - and it was now prepared to act swiftly to arrest the gang should they be found on Pakistan soil.

Hostages home

The hijackers released their 155 hostages at Kandahar airport in Afghanistan on Friday in return for the release of three Muslim militants.

Crew and passengers arrive in Delhi Emotional welcome for the crew and passengers in Delhi
The hostages, mostly Indian, were flown to Delhi where they were reunited with their families.

The militants freed by India were Maulana Masood Azhar, a Pakistani cleric, Ahmed Omar Sayed Sheikh and Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar.

The three have connections to a militant movement that seeks to separate Kashmir from India. The hijackers had demanded India should free 36 militants.

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See also:
01 Jan 00 |  South Asia
Hostage widow unaware of husband's death
01 Jan 00 |  South Asia
India's press asks tough questions
31 Dec 99 |  South Asia
In pictures: The end of the hijack
31 Dec 99 |  South Asia
Hostages recount hijack ordeal
30 Dec 99 |  South Asia
Analysis: Testing time for Taleban
29 Dec 99 |  South Asia
Analysis: India warms to the Taleban
28 Dec 99 |  South Asia
Analysis: A high profile militant group
25 Dec 99 |  South Asia
Chronology of a hijack
25 Dec 99 |  South Asia
Profile: Maulana Masood Azhar

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