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Saturday, 1 January, 2000, 12:08 GMT
Is the Indian Government doing enough?
The hijack of flight IC-814 continues with passengers and crew trapped aboard the plane grounded in the Afghan city of Kandahar.
The hijackers of the Indian aircraft have apparently dropped two of their demands, but one man has been stabbed to death, and 160 people remain in the confines of the plane.
Passengers' relatives initially accused the Indian Government of cowardice and foot-dragging. The Indian media have also fiercely criticised the way the crisis has been handled.
However, India's External Affairs Minister, Jaswant Singh, said: "The Government remains committed to the earliest termination of the hijacking and also the safe return of passengers and crew."
Do you think the Indian Government should be handling the crisis differently?
India should immediately exchange the hostages for the prisoners and then work diplomatically to arrest the hijackers. I wonder which country in the world can give them asylum. This will absolve India from the charge of foot dragging and expose whichever country abets terrorism.
It is a crisis and the parties involved must solve it with utmost prudence without harming the hostages
The world sympathy is with the victims and not with the attackers. India along with Afghanistan must act promptly without killing time. They can ask for help, if necessary, from outside, such as USA, UNO, Israeli commandos and so on. They must resort to any possible and viable measure to help sort out the crisis.
We hope, the parties involved resolve the present hijacking crisis and save the innocent victims in the aircraft.
It's strange to blame the Indian Government. These matters are serious and cannot be handled in hurry.
The question is not just about the hijacking of one Indian plane but questions the insurgence of terrorism all over the world. And most of them unfortunately are Islamic. In fact they are defaming Islam and causing more harm to Islam itself than anything else. This is right time for true Muslims, rather all religious people, to condemn any cowardly acts like these and condemn those who even indirectly support these acts.
The world must unite to stop terrorism anywhere. All sensible people must condemn such acts firmly and openly and punish all who sympathise with such people at least by social boycott.
The government of India is not interested in getting the hostages released. If they had the least concern for the lives of the people on board, they would have not let the plane take off from Amritsar. The government is only interested in getting Pakistan implicated in the affair and that it will provide the basis to get Pakistan declared as a terrorist state.
Hopefully this problem is solved peacefully. But let us think what is the source of this problem? It is because of the atrocities committed by the Indian Government in Kashmir. They have killed 1000's of Muslims. This is how it feels when you loose loved ones for no reason. The hijacking is wrong but the Indian army is committing genocide and murder in Kashmir.
The government is handling the issue the best way it can. The response has been little slow in the beginning, but it is a very complex and delicate issue. There have been some lapses in security and actions as plane was allowed to leave India. What really missing is a strategy to deal with this type of situations. India must understand that it is target of terrorism in the same way as Israel and US. The real disadvantage India has is its large bureaucracy. I think it's about time India does something with that.
At the present circumstance, India has the only option of declaring war on Pakistan, Taliban and storming the aircraft to release the passengers. India is definitely doing a superb job by presenting itself with such an extreme action.
I think that the Indian government has been very slow, I would put this down to lack of experience/expertise. If this would have happened to any other country i.e. G8 nations, it would have been resolved. India should never negotiate with terrorists, yes we do know that the hostages and their families will not agree, but this is the only way, if India gives in then who knows what the terrorists would do next.
My sympathy is with the passengers as it is not Islamic to use unarmed, helpless humans as shields. Hats off for the Kashmiri Mujahideen who fought the Indian Special Police and commandos as Islamic fighters should. Indian government has now set up a charade in this event by not addressing the hijackers demands, having earlier let the aircraft leave Amritsar in India?
The Indian government is doing its best to come out of this situation. They are trying to pressurise the Taliban as well as the Hijackers. The whole world knows what is the extent of this situation and who are behind it, but still there is no strong criticism, either from US, or from UN. So this shows the extent of their sympathy towards the innocent hostages who are kept inside with so much physical and mental torture. Till now Taliban is co-operating with India to come out of this crisis. But the pressure from Taliban on the hijackers should be much more for not only to free the hostages but also to combat the global terrorism.
N.K Mohapatra, India
Our country is and was doomed to disaster from the time we declared secularism. The politicians with vested interest have virtually mortgaged the nation in the hands of the minorities. The problems are insurmountable and the only solution to all the problems we have is to declare INDIA as a Hindu state. International organisations do not award us for being secular rather we are an object of ridicule for the western world, why can't the western world declare themselves to be secular why can't they promote and profess similar secular policies. Why can't these clowns who are ruling us scrap article 370 and solve the problem of Kashmir once and for all. Or else the hijackings shall continue unabated by these fanatic, fundamentalist group.
Considering the safety of the passengers in a situation like this, the Indian Government is doing the best level it can. But at the same time it did make some mistakes in the initial stage of hijacking. It could not allow the plane to leave country. I believe it will win to save all passengers without any bloodshed in this 'war o patience'
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but in this case I think there is very important lessons to be learnt. The plane should have never been allowed to leave Amritsar, because once it had the Indian Government was always going to look stupid. There should be a definite appraisal of Indian Security because it is obvious they do not know how to respond in a crisis.
Manuv Suri, Australia
India, no doubt is making supreme efforts behind the scenes in mobilising its resources to deal with this - the last thing it will do is tell the press and thus the world what it is doing. The game of nerves being played is risky but is the only option at present - and to throw mud at the Indian government over this is unfair- surely those to blame are the hijackers, the terrorists and their backers - some of whom hail from the UK.
The hijacking situation is being handled in the same lackadaisical manner as expected from the Indian authorities. The Indian authorities always allow a crisis to emerge before taking any action. I feel exasperated by the Indian comments that the ISI is responsible for the hijacking. I feel that the relatives of the hostages should keep the interest of the country supreme and not pressurise the government to release those that have brought destruction to the country.
I am amazed at the crass attitude of the Indian government. When Indians were marooned in Kuwait after Iraq's invasion, the Indian government sent a ship to save its people. Here 160 passengers are in danger and the Indian authorities have decided that Pakistan has done it. The least they can do is to find out where the security leak took place; then they should have at least talked to the Hijackers when the plane landed at Amritsar.
In Pakistan we expect our governments to be insensitive and have looked to the Indian way of managing human affairs. It is one thing to say you will not negotiate with hijackers but quite another to ignore them while they kill innocent passengers. This in action is both brutal and thoughtless. It cannot be condoned.
Baber Khairi, Pakistan
It is quite important to realise that this incident would not have happened if the security staff and responsible employees were doing their job properly. Terrorists wherever they come from or belong to they are cowards and we shouldn't let them kill our families and children. I urge the government in India to do the best they can and as soon as they can to end the suffering of the passengers and their families.
The Indian Government has one all time favourite policy "Don't do anything". So our passengers are totally at the mercy of hijackers. May god bless them with kind heart so that they may not do any more harm to anyone. Thanks to the Taliban for the hospitality they have shown to my fellow countrymen.
We in Pakistan are deeply concerned about the people on board of Indian hijacked plane. I wish the Indian media would recognise this friendly and humane feeling of people of Pakistan and behave more rationally.
India has no intention of solving this crisis. It would surprise me if this ended up peacefully and without bloodshed. The only motive behind this is to malign Pakistan and get them on the list of terrorist states.
I think sitting in judgement NOW over whether the Indian Govt is doing enough certainly is not going to help. It is a very complex issue that demands thorough understanding of the situation. The public opinion is media-lead, and there are a lot of conflicting ones right now. What matters most is the safety and well-being of the hostages, without giving in to the terrorists. It is important to take a tough stance, which will serve as a deterrent
Mohana Dhoble, India
My sympathy is with the passengers as it is not Islamic to use unarmed, helpless humans as shields. Hats off for the Kashmiri Mujahideen who fought the Indian Special Police and commandos as Islamic fighters should. Indian government has now set up a charade in this event by not addressing the hijackers' demands, having earlier let the aircraft leave Amritsar in India?
Please don't release militants.
The Indian Government has done a good job till now. However, I wonder why the UN and the US, both self-styled champions of anti-terrorism, did not release even an official statement of condemnation for such a long time. This, I think, indicates their lack of seriousness about global terrorism.
The Indian Government is handling the situation in a very well manner that any other country cannot handle in this way. This is actually a critical situation where you need to think about the lives of 160 people and as well as the country's security. If Indian Govt. agrees to demands of the hijacker than it will be an encouragement to the terrorism. I think Indian Govt. will be able to resolve this issue without loss of anymore lives.
The Indian Government can not do anything right. The bureaucracy supports millions of inefficient, overpaid, unpatriotic government workers to do nothing. When the news broke, many of them (supposed to be in the line of duty) could not find their attire. If the plane is hijacked, they get paid, if it does not, they get paid. This is the tradition, Nehru's, "Socialistic pattern of Society", created. And it has come back to haunt the Indian Government today in every aspect of life. Now add the Hindu religious fanatics to the game, you get the whole picture. Ironic, isn't it?
Dipta K. Bandyopadhyay, USA
Once again we are confronted with a situation that requires extreme caution and discretion. The Indian government has to do everything in its power to expedite this process. Hijackers have no religion, no nationality or creed. Their sole purpose is to create panic and destruction. I hope the Indian government shall try to act immediately and for Heaven's sake don't appoint another "commission" for resolving this issue.
The Government of India is doing nothing. They are not interested in the passengers safety and health. It's seems to be a pre-planned game to them.
The Indian Government is doing the best they can, i.e. to sit and watch the storm to pass away on its own as usual. The crisis has also given an opportunity for the Indian media to falsely highlight Kashmiri separatists as terrorists. For the hijackers, deep down they know they are in safe place, thanks to our government's snail-pace of action. These inhumane activities will keep continuing by the people who have suffered the same.
I think the Indian government has done an admirable job so far. It has taken decisions after weighing all options. It is not easy to conduct an Entebbe style commando operation everywhere at all times. However, the lack of response from the US and the UN - who normally have a lot to say against global terrorism - indicates the real extent of their "concern".
What amazes me more than anything else, is the fact that the whole world is just watching and letting India do its thing. India had already proved to be incompetent during first few hours of the hijacking (what were they thinking when they let the aircraft take off from Amritsar). The Taliban government is in a position to solve this problem but no one is putting any pressure on the Taliban government to act.
Let the entire world unite and fight the cowardice act of terrorism against common people .Let all the politicians come together, sit across and come out with a long lasting solution against these kind of acts. Let us forget all boundaries and some together for a common humanitarian cause
I feel that Indian government should be firm. It made the mistake of allowing the plane to go from Amritsar.
All I have to say about this whole thing is that this has been going on for way to long. They should send a Special Forces unit in at their end and end this stand off once and for all. If you let these terrorists win, then they will be back next time and more senseless violence will occur.
Cool down. Sit back. Relax. Think. This is not a situation when one could spring into a blindfolded action at once and eventually pay for its stupidity. We all comment upon results and take pride in criticising our own government and people. Given the constraints and delicacy of the situation, I believe the Indian Government is doing the best. Isn't it a victory for the Indian government that the relatives of the hostages are now saying that adhering to the demands of the hijackers is out of question? The world opinion is also now heavily tilted in favour of India. Eventually the hijackers might get frustrated and give up own their own. They are not getting any help, support or direction from their own peers who are themselves not clear on how they could come out of the criminal mess they have created. One thing must now be made clear to the world that India should not be perceived as a soft target. The Indian government now needs to take an offensive and tough stand against all kinds of terrorism. If need be, it should take measures similar to those taken by the U.S. against Libya and by Russia against Chechnya.
I think the Indian government is doing all it can under the difficult circumstances. However, it failed miserably in preventing this and future such incidents from happening. The Indian government does not realise the true potential of terrorist threats to its citizens, first in Kargil and now this. It is clear that Pakistan is involved, but now is not the right time to start a diplomatic wrangle with that country. I also feel that Indian government is helpless at dealing with the lopsided presentation of the western media, who claim these inhuman terrorists as freedom fighters! (ABC News - whose freedom and whose fight?
The Indian bureaucracy is well known for its lack of any sense of urgency. It's hoping those things will on their own as they fear consequences of any committed decision. However, I feel, things would have been different if a politician's relative was on board.
It is about time that the Kashmir issue was resolved once and for all. Let the Kashmiri people decide what they want and the Indian and Pakistani governments accept it. The madness must not go on.
V.P Singh's stupidity and selfishness brought shame to our country by releasing 4 militants for a minister's daughter. Now these relatives have every right to ask for the release of militants. The first thing India should do once this crisis is over is to amend the constitution to bar the release of any militant even if the the President of India has been kidnapped.
The government of India has miserably failed to protect the national interest and security of its citizens. This incident and Kargil intrusions show that the government is a reactive and not a proactive government. It is high time that the government developed standard operating guidelines and response mechanisms to deal with these types of crises because, unfortunately, we have to accept terrorism as part of our daily lives and live with it. I think that given the fact that the government has forced itself into a situation where the cards are stacked against it, they should take the next step in a judicious and practical manner. We can only hope and pray for the return of the hostages unharmed
Its easy to discredit and criticise the Indian government. We all grew up doing just that. But complex situations like hijacking, demands of money and people are not easy and thus cannot be evaluated based on historical mistakes. Consider this: how many lives were lost while trying to capture these militants, the resources spent to keep them away from the killing fields, the lives saved to date by keeping these militants incarcerated.
Now consider this: the resources for killing which can be purchased with 200 million dollars. How many innocent lives can be taken by 36 hard core foreign militants?
This is not to discount the precious lives of 160 people on board, but I think the Indian government is taking an intelligent decision by allowing the hijackers to get frustrated and international pressure to build up. However, it is taking more time than expected.
Storming may be one of the options. Since the hijackers cannot fly out of Khandhar, they have to settle for whatever they can get, particularly in the wake of the Taleban's deciding to go tough on them.
The root cause for all this I believe is the incredible carelessness at Nepal's Khatmandu airport. How in heaven's sake, could such a big stock of arms and knives have been allowed into the plane?
Of course, both blame and praise go to India in handling the situation. Blame, because it seems the Indian officials are acting very slowly and praise because they are handling the situation by weighing all the factors such as what happens if you give into the demands of terrorists and what happens if you don't? This is really
a hard decision and I can understand the delay. One thing only we can do is just pray to God for a peaceful end to this crisis.
While I feel really bad for the passengers, India should not give in to demands of these hijackers. If it does so once, then it would be setting a very bad precedent and would encourage other such incidents. The USA has a stated policy of not negotiating with terrorists and it has its merits.
My view on this is that until the Kashmir question is resolved once and for all such incidents will never cease. That aside, no-one should have the gall to blame Pakistan or Afghanistan for any of these actions. Both countries have condemned what has happened, with Afghanistan going out of their way to help resolve the problem - which is more than can be said for India.
Looking at this crisis objectively there are some disturbing questions that spring to mind...
1) Where was the security to prevent the hijackers getting such weapons onto the plane in India ?
2) If India had been warned of potential attacks - why had security not been tightened at the airport ?
3) Why was the plane not apprehended while in India during refuelling ?
4) Who is 'gaining' from the current world media attention and who is being made to look like the evil terrorists?
This whole situation stinks of Indian conspiracy striving for Western support in its bloody claim over Kashmir.
It should also be noted that the vast majority of Muslims wouuld not support this kind of action against civilians.
I believe the reason they made the plane leave Indian soil was so that if there is any mistake and something happens to the hostages they could blame it on other people.
The facts that are emerging from Amritsar - that the plane was right in the middle of the runway - thereby preventing other planes from taking off and landing, also it had its engines running all the time. This itself indicates that there was nothing to be done. Even a simple move would made the hijackers react in an adverse manner. The fact that one person was stabbed to death was in response to the refuelling engine moving towards the plane. In light of these facts, I think the Indian government acted in the right manner and the situation was beyond control. I am fully satisfied that we did not mess up the situation.
The crucial question [to which there appears to be no credible explanation from the Indian authorities to date] is why was the aircraft allowed to take off from Amritsar? This was an Indian carrier with [mainly] Indian nationals on board on Indian Soil. India has compounded a very difficult situation by allowing the aircraft to fly away from Indian territory only to end up in a country with whom India has no diplomatic ties and where India has no real control of the hostage crisis. It is at the mercy of the Taleban should a storming of the aircraft be necessary.
Both the Indian Government and Indian Airlines, for their unforgiveable lapse in security, are responsible for allowing the crisis to run into its sixth day.
The Indian government should have stormed the plane at the earliest opportunity - ideally at Amritsar or Delhi - either there were security fears or more likely no contingency plans existed for such a crisis, which is an indictment of all the authorities concerned. I cannot believe for example that Israel would have allowed this situation to develop.
In the current climate, the Indian government will have to pursue negotiations towards a peaceful outcome and/or rely on Taleban co-operation. It is unsuprising to note Pakistan's general silence - their own political agenda is well served by this affair but doubtless this is a coincidence.
Also of minor interest is how silent world Islamic opinion is on this matter - the whole Islamic world should repudiate such terrorism for bringing the name of Islam into disrepute and to avoid any charges of hypocrisy.
Backing down and accepting demands will only open the doors for future cowardly acts like this. The Indian governmnent is doing a superb job of weighing all the options.
The Indian government is still putting the lives of the indian passengers on board at risk because more delay will only cause the hijackers to get frustrated, in which conditions they may act in any way they can. Then it will be the government's responsibility. India should do something fast before it is too late.
Do you suppose that we could trade the 160 passengers with 160 of our politicians?
The Indians should have given priority to the passengers on board in this whole scenario. Instead they are playing politics and trying to shoot two of their rivals - the Taleban and Pakistan - by capitalising on the West's anti-Islamic sentiments.
The aircraft had landed at Amritsar in the evening on the first day of the hijack. The Indian government should not have allowed the plane to cross the border that day. It would have been far easier to face the crisis on Indian soil than in a hostile land like Afghanistan.
Furthermore, the Indian government has not been doing enough to mobilise active support from the US and Europe.
The Government should not give in to the demands at any cost and the last resort should be the storming of the plane
I don't think there was any better way to handle this crisis. In this kind of sensitive situation a lot of prior thinking would lead to a better and safer end instead of taking hasty decisions quickly.
It's easy to say, sitting out there, that the Government has not handled the crisis
properly, but in this situation where India has no diplomatic relations with the Taleban, it was right to wait for some time until Indian officials got there and started the negotiations.
It's amazing in times of crisis,
how many "experts" on terrorism climb out
of the woodwork. All of a sudden, we have
reporters, journalists, talk-show hosts, and
unrelated government officials all giving
their opinions. Simultaneously, they criticise the
Indian government...a government that probably
has more anti-terrorist experience than any other.
I'm sure India is taking the most prudent
steps to ensure a peaceful solution. Remember, the terrorists
first wanted freedom for one prisoner.
The next day, they increased their demands.
They themselves don't know what they want. How
can anyone negotiate with such people? It isn't easy.
As a non-resident Indian I am absolutely shocked and amazed by the government's reaction to this major crisis. While the whole world is talking about the hijacking it takes the Indian government 4 days to just send over its negotiators. Had there been a prominent authority's relative in the craft the situation would surely have been different. It is a pity that I, an Indian, am ashamed to express my identity today.
Initially, I was dismayed and disappointed that the Indian officials did not end this crisis quickly. However, as I read more and more about what they have done so far in dealing with this crisis, I am satisfied that they are doing their best to end the situation. I am still deeply distressed by the fact that there are 160 and more humans held captive under the most gruelling conditions and I pray for their well-being and safety.
I also believe that India should work with the Afghanistan government to end this crisis peacefully without damaging its national integrity and safety. Unfortunately, this may take more time and I pray for all innocent passengers and crew to have sanity, patience, strength, and courage. And I also pray for the hijackers to relinquish their demands and surrender without harming others as well as themselves.
The way the Government is handling the situation, is like a snail trying to reach its goal.
The bureaucracy in India works wonders given the luxury of ample time to react. The government failed in preventing the aircraft from leaving the Indian territory. The government will never learn the lessons that this is exactly the way crises' occur. Not being prepared and not having any contingencies for such terrorist activities is foolish. We need to learn and be smarter if we have to live as neighbours with Pakistan.
The Indian government has shamed itself! It has such little regard for the lives of its own citizens. Recall just a few years ago, the daughter of a prominent MP was kidnapped and they appeased them thoroughly. Perhaps it is the fault of the civilians on the plane that they are not related to anyone "important." What a disgrace.
The most important right now is the fate of passengers on board. India is unnecessarily wasting time and putting the life of 160 passengers at risk. It has been seen in the history of Kashmir during last ten years that the people who have been freed from jails have been again caught, one way or another. India should finish this hard time as soon as possible before hijackers put another demand that may hamper the release of poor passengers.
To back down, would give an open invitation to hijack planes every day. The Indian government is doing its best in the situation. However, the plane should have never been allowed to leave Amritsar.
It is not fair to comment on anything at the moment. Nothing is clear and reports are conflicting. One BBC report says that condition is appalling inside the plane, people are blindfolded etc., whereas the second reports say people are calm, playing cards and listening to music.
The issue of Airport Security worries me the most. How can pistols, knives and weapons pass through security checks?
The Indian Government should have responded correctly and timely when the Jet was at Amritsar. The best option would have been storming the plane and killing the Hijackers on the spot without any mercy. Now however, the Government is paying for mishandling the situation.
India is handling the situation well. The international community should condemn hijackers act. Afghan should allow India to work on its own way.
Absolutely not... I am still baffled as to why the aeroplane was allowed to leave Indian airspace. Secondly, why hasn't anyone cut a deal with the Taliban to send in the commandos to storm the aeroplane?
The Indian government is doing a superb job, given the extremely difficult conditions of the hijacking of a plane to none-too friendly areas of the world, which are, even at the best of times, difficult to reach and inaccessible to outsiders.
Dealing with fanatic, ruthless militants who have already killed one person; who have already attempted to kill one more; and who are reported to have killed four more passengers, is not an easy task.
On top of it, of course, the Indian government has to weigh up various other moral, ethical, psychological, political, social, military and geopolitical considerations.
Hats off to Shri Brijesh Mishra, the Prime Minister's Principal Secretary, who, I suspect, masterminds the Indian operations.
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