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Thursday, 6 January, 2000, 15:20 GMT
Should India have given in to the hijackers?




India celebrated the New Year with a huge sense of relief that the hostage crisis on the Indian Airlines plane in Afghanistan was over.

Hijack Special Report
But questions are being asked about the government's handling of the crisis, and the price that India paid - the release of three jailed militants.

Some believe the outcome could leave India open to more blackmail attempts; others argue that the authorities had little choice if they wanted to save the hostages. There are also calls for a tougher line to be taken against Pakistan, whom India has blamed for the hijack.

Your assessment of the lessons to be learnt from the hijack are published below.


Is the life of a minister's daughter more valuable than the lives of 160 persons on the hijacked plane? If they can release militants in the first case, why not now.
Anonymous, India



To save the lives of 155 people, India has put thousands of Indians' lives in jeopardy
Mahesh Srinivasen, UK
Now that these terrorists are free, how many innocent lives are they going to claim by terrorist bomb attacks on trains, buses, planes and other public places? To save the lives of 155 people, India has put thousands of Indians' lives in jeopardy. I feel ashamed as an Indian at the incompetence of the airport authorities in Amritsar and the spinelessness of the government.
Mahesh Srinivasen, UK

Have the hijackers done any good to their cause? The released jehadis are now reported back among their outfits, giving out fiery speeches and vowing to returning to Kashmir to continue their jehad. Which means that the Indian forces will think many times before taking a militant prisoner. They would rather kill a militant than take him prisoner. Will that serve the jehadis?
Noman Ahmed, Pakistan

The hijackers were on the payrolls of Intelligence Bureau of India. They were assigned the job to hijack the plane so that Pakistan may be maligned. Since gross human rights violations are taking place in Kashmir by the army and police India hatched the plan to show to the world that she was the victim of terrorism. The criminals went back to India after accomplishing their mission. They will be given another assignment. The world is going to see another drama.
Mukhtar Ali Naqvi, USA

As the first chance to stop the hijackers in Indian soil was missed in Amritsar, India had no choice but to give in. One can only hope that cave-in was tactical in the war against terrorism. Modern India must now gather all her wits and courage in confronting this sore legacy of the British colonialism.
Satyam, Singapore

Why are people blaming USA or UK? This is a matter for India and India has to solve it. It is utter foolishness that any country will help in these matters. We don't want to any mediation of any other country in any country's problem. So why do you think some body has to help you? Get the strength to face your own security problem.
Srihari, India

How about this strategy - anytime there is a hijacking demand to release terrorists, these terrorists should be held counter-hostages. If the hijackers kill any hostage, one from their list of prisoners to be freed should be shot dead. However, India did the best they could under the circumstances.
Abdul Hafeez, USA

People resort to terrorism because they are not heard otherwise, nobody is born a terrorist. Look at the facts and you will see that Kashmiris are being massacred, raped, tortured and the world is watching in silence. Where is the UN?
Aquil, USA

India had very limited choice especially considering Pakistan and the Taliban were (and are) in 'cahoots' with the terrorists. After closely watching the 'drama' unfold only a damn fool would think this was an independent act of some 'oppressed freedom loving' Muslim militants. It is a real shame that none of the 'Western democracies' didn't come out in support of India in any meaningful way.
Mohan Marette, Kerala (India) & USA



India must seek a peaceful solution to the Kashmir conflict or face more challenges from terrorists
A C Akuma, Cameroon
Hijacking is carried out because there are genuine problems that need solutions from which countries in position of strength fail to recognise and tackle accordingly. The Kashmir issue has for some time now disappeared from the international media and victims of the region continue to suffer unnoticed. India must seek a peaceful solution to the conflict or prepare to face many more challenges from terrorists.
A C Akuma, Cameroon

It is very unfortunate that the Taliban has let the Hijackers escape. They should have arrested them as soon as they released the hostages. This clearly shows that this act is sponsored by both Taliban and Pakistan. But countries like UK and USA who preach a lot about anti-terrorist policies are now silent about the whole episode. Probably they want India to be destabilised so that they can proclaim their superiority.
Siva, India

In my opinion there needs to be some objectivity in this discussion. One Indian-born gentleman went as far to suggest that three freed prisoners should have been shot dead as soon as they were captured. I think he does not know that the main focus of this hijacking - the Muslin cleric - was jailed in India in 1995 on the charge of travelling in India on a forged passport. Is this such a heinous crime warranting a death penalty?
Syed Jafri, USA

India blames Pakistan of involvement in the hijacking which Pakistan denies. India accuses Pakistan of sending in armed forces into Kargil which Pakistan again denies. The international press (CNN, BBC etc.) dutifully reports both sides of the story without any investigative journalism (what is the truth?). The western nations with all their resources, technology, espionage satellites etc., will not comment conclusively. So what is the truth? Is it difficult to find out or is it not worth the effort?
Raj, UK

It's a matter of fact that the Kashmir issue is very complex. Lots of people say that the Kashmir issue has to be solved under UN regulation and it's an international dispute. Both Pakistan and India agreed to solve Kashmir conflict under the "Simla Treaty" where it's mentioned that this conflict has to be resolved bilaterally and no countries could intervene this issue. So, terrorists or Pakistan may not be able to internationalise the Kashmir issue at all. Hijacking the Indian Plane has proved that the millitants/hijackers are cruel and inhuman. These terrorists have brought even bad impression about the Islamic Nations (especially Afghanistan and Pakistan). They must find out some other ways of getting independence or joining Pakistan.
A. Sinha, Bangladesh (Australia)



India did a good job by saving the lives of 155 people
Sadar Hassan, India / USA
India did a good job by saving the lives of 155 people in IA Plane. Now India and Pakistan must sit at the table and resolve Kashmir matter in the spirit of 1972 Simla Agreement, its not in the interest of maintaining good relations between the two countries to accuse each other for the crises. In Pakistan the army must hand over the reins of power to an elected government. It's military's interference in managing the county that keeps tensions between India and Pakistan.
Syed Sadar Hassan, India (USA)

I would ask this question: Had this situation happened in the USA would the outcome have been the same? Of course not, India is weak and feeble and only ever relies on threats rather than real action. I await News of further hostage situations thanks to India.
Abdul Ahmed, UAE

India is justified in what it did with the hijack deal. If we weigh the odds the terrorists can still be traced and tried but the loss of innocent lives aboard the ill-fated plane cannot be regained.
Mini, South Korea

The Indian government mishandled the hijacking issue and now it is blaming Pakistan and Taleban by irrelevant arguments.
Mohtashim Uddin, USA

The Indian government did the right thing in very difficult circumstances. In freeing the militants it took full responsibility for the failure of its own security measures, as well as those of the airport authorities in Nepal, and minimised the risk to the passengers on board the Airbus. In this it upheld the value of innocent lives over the prospect of losing face at home. This could not have been an easy thing to decide and it showed true character. Congratulations to India
Simon Cameron, UK

I was glad to see that the hijacking ended peacefully. The demands for independence in South Asia, Kashmir, Sikh Punjab, North East Indian states can only be resolved ultimately through negotiations. Otherwise the cycle of violence will continue. A East Timor Style UN intervention seems to be the only way forward at the moment.
Jagdip Singh, USA

The Indian government had no choice. They could have stormed the plane in Amritsar, but the terrorists started killing the hostages and would have increased the casualties. India would have thought that other countries where the plane was heading would co-operate and take the terrorists into task. Hijacking is a crime recognised internationally. I am surprised that the world is just watching and no one complains
Pierre du Plessis, South Africa

I have always been in favour of democracy but believe that it has its own flaws; one of which became evident from the hijacking episode as the government was compelled by the pressure from its voters to release the three militants. However, I defend the position taken by the government, as according to many passengers including some Frenchmen. The hijackers were provided with new weapons at Kandera. Realising the fact that the Afghan's and Pakistanis, both states hostile towards India, mediated for India on their home turf, one must conclude that any chance of bombing of the airliner was within reach. With the Afghan's refusing to perform any commando rescue, India was left with the last resort - release the hostages.
Siddharth Raina, USA

Terrorism is a truly abhorrent act. We all condemn it. However, when one takes a piece of blunt metal and begins to grind it and rub it against other hard objects, that blunt metal becomes sharp like a knife. This is how the situation of oppressed people can be viewed. Whether it is in the Palestine, Chechnya or Kashmir. Both India and Pakistan now ought to be brought to the table and India should give up it's right over Kashmir, as the UN mandates suggest. India cannot continue to flaunt the UN resolutions on Kashmir. This will be a real test for the UN, which is now being controlled more and more by the USA. It simply cannot continue to be called the UN when it has one set of rules for one member state and a completely different set for another member.
Charles Winfred Belgrave, United Kingdom

With little or no help from western countries, India had no choice but to give in. India should start diplomatic talks with friendly countries to put pressure on Pakistan to withdraw its support for Muslim militants in Kashmir. At the same time, India should take all necessary steps to protect its citizens from terrorism.
Louis, USA/INDIA

I think India did a pretty good job for the freedom of innocent people. Terrorists have no religion and no religion of earth should justify terrorism.
Harbans Dhillon, USA



If you're a terrorist in India and you get caught, you can always have your friends hijack a plane and you'll be set free
Jason Potosky, USA
The fact that you can hijack an Indian plane, have your demands met, and get away with it isn't what is amazing. What is amazing is that if you're a terrorist in India and you get caught, you can always have your friends hijack a plane and you'll be set free! If India is so afraid of terrorism it should release all militants from its prisons and cede all disputed land to Pakistan. At least then we'd be spared the horror of future hijackings which are sure to come now that India's weakness has been revealed.
Jason Potosky, USA

Probably, it is not a good decision to release the hijackers since a lot more terrorists would be encouraged to pursue such tactics. I also believe that in future all the governments should get together in combating such terrorist activities which would send a strong message that the world is united against such activities. The message should be clear enough that any person planning such activity understand that their actions are against the humanity and not against a particular nation, religion or race.
Shyam Sundar, Indian (in USA)

There is no point blaming anybody NOW. The Indian government has to start working. The saying "If you want to please everybody, you can please nobody" applies very much to the Indian Government. They have to shed their populist stand and be stern with these "freedom fighters".
Vinayak R Sundar, India (USA)

It is premature and perhaps irresponsible of both India and Pakistan to accuse each other of complicity in the hijacking. However, Pakistan cannot absolve itself of being indirectly responsible for encouraging terrorist groups such as the Harkat-ul-ansar which masterminded the hijacking.
Abhinav Saxena, India

Not many in the west are going to like my comments here. Whether one likes it or not, it is an undeniable fact that Pakistan is a terrorist state. And based on what I read about India, it is a peace-loving state. It is the bad policies of west indirectly gave support to a rogue regime in Pakistan. It is time we correct our foreign policies towards South Asia, particularly towards India and Pakistan.
Tomme Weillor, USA

All actions such as hijackings should always be condemned. However it should be kept in mind why this took place. The reason is India's continuing brutal suppression of the freedom struggle in Kashmir where Indian soldiers are engaged in the same atrocities as the Serbs were engaged in Kosovo. The lesson that India needs to learn is that it should come to terms with the fact that it can't suppress the freedom struggle by force and enter into negotiations with the Kashmiris and Pakistan on how to resolve this issue peacefully. This is happening everywhere in the world -why not Kashmir?
Fawad, Pakistani/USA



The tremendous pressure on the Indian government from the public left it with no other choice
Sivasubramanian, USA / India
India had no other choice but to release some of the militants and get the hostages back home before New Year. I don't think that the hijackers would have started killing the hostages even if India had dragged on with more negotiations. But, the tremendous pressure on the Indian government from the public left it with no other choice but to end it fast. That the plane was under Taleban control, who supply a lot of fighters to the same Mujahideen who planned the hijack made it a no win situation for India. There is no way India can hold on to Kashmir like this. It has to negotiate seriously with Pakistan and the Kashmiris to decide about Kashmir's future or take a belligerent stance against Pakistan to end its open support to the separatists.
Sivasubramanian, USA (India)

Indian Government had few choices given the published record of bunglings and confusion. Hopefully the responsible members will examine the systemic failure in Amritsar Airport, check-In Procedures at Kathmandu, the negotiations on the ground Dubai, and the exchange of hostages in Kandahar and the "disappearance" of the hijackers in Afghanistan. Only then lessons will be learned, but given the record of the Indian government this is wishful thinking. It will be forgotten....till next time.
Mo Ahmed, USA

Giving in is not a good way to discourage kidnappings in the future, but the government was in a bind and so is probably the only way to do it.
Govind, USA

I believe that India had no choice. Those hijackers are crazy lunatics who are ready to do anything to advance their causes. It would have been tragedy to let all those people in that plane perish because of a criminal whose incarceration does not deter any violence. The key to ending all this madness is for India to review its policies on Kashmir. It is time to talk about peace and reconciliation.
Clement Chiwaya, Malawian studying in USA

While the plane was in Amritsar (India), the authorities knew that a hijacking was taking place. They should have taken steps to prevent the plane from taking off, and at the same time, negotiations should have swung into action. The Indian government should take total blame for what has, or might, happen as a result of the hijacking; they might have had other options had the plane been (still) on Indian soil when the negotiations were taking place.
Nawaz, UK

I feel that 3 militants should not have been released since they are capable of killing 10000 people. Moreover what has the Indian government been doing with those kinds of notorious terrorists for the past 6 years? They should have been shot as soon as they were captured. This idea or lesson should be implemented at least in the future.
Chandramouli Sundaram, India (currently in US)

Though the Indian government was very reluctant to release the militants, the Indian media played a game together in favour of the hijackers. The so-called responsible media over published the hostages' relatives' feelings. They took this opportunity to blame the government rather supporting it. The opposition party said the government can appropriate decision according to the situation. Now they say the government is at fault. This shows how dirty politics is being played by so called responsible opposition. The government should not care for the campaign before taking any hard decisions and I feel that it handled the crisis with utmost care and properly.
Ravishankara B.N., USA

It was a sensible decision of Indian Government to save more than 150 human lives. As the events continue after the hijacking, India still has to face far more fanatical terrorism in the coming days. Coming days will really tell whether Democratic government with tolerant constitution can survive over the proxy war raged by the self-proclaimed government with suspended constitution.
Sanjay Tripathi, India

I think just as the terrorists of the world are united so should be the countries of the world to fight against them. It's a lesson that should have been learnt long ago.
Matt Dalal, U.S.A

India shouldn't have given in to the hijackers demand (did it have a choice with little or no support from other countries?), in fact other 'developed' nations should have helped India in storming the plane and arresting the hijackers. This incident will not only antagonise India's interests but also endanger other 'developed' nations to future terrorist attacks, and will also send encouraging signal not only to Kashmiri Terrorists but to other terrorists groups as well.
Don Bosco, USA

I say that the India should not have given in to the threats of the terrorists. Since the terrorists had to come through an airport before boarding the plane it is natural they did not have that much of an opportunity to carry a large amount of arms and ammunition into the plain. Therefore we could think that the terrorists were armed with a few minor weapons. Therefore the Indian government could have deployed their or Afghan commandos to launch a surprise attack and take the control of the plane. Since the terrorists had only a few weapons they could not have killed more than a few passengers. Even a few days ago when some terrorists were keeping some Indian police officers as hostages the Indian authorities did the same thing. It was again a success. So India could have done the same thing. Now they have set a bad precedent - 'if you want to liberate any criminals hijack one of our planes'. India has damaged the dignity of the entire nation. Can you let a few terrorists act against the will of 800 million people? Nobody needs such a peace.
Narada Wickramage, Sri Lanka



The whole hijacking was but a side effect of India's actions in Kashmir
W. Afzal, US / Pakistan
The Indian government had no choice but to give in. Their initial mistake was to let the plane leave India, their second mistake was to react slowly and stretch out the affair to eight days, and their third mistake is pinning the blame on Pakistan on the basis of conversation recorded between people they themselves called militants. Pinning the blame elsewhere redirects blame from where it should be - on the inept Indian government. Name-calling and bluster tends to make people emotional, belligerent, and illogical. Just what the Indian government is hoping for. "Get the whole country up in arms, swearing and cursing everything and everyone Pakistani and your problems will be solved!"
But that won't solve anything. If you want to solve the problem, then go the root of the problem. India approached the UN 50 years ago regarding a solution to the Kashmir issue. India doesn't seem to realise that when you have thousands of soldiers stationed in Kashmir, when the people who live there live under guns and brutality, that there will always be resistance. The whole hijacking was but a side effect of India's actions in Kashmir.
W. Afzal, US / Pakistan

It's nice to see that the hostages were exchanged safely. My main concern is with the media . The first report said Sikhs were involved. It's obvious that the media was getting the wrong information. Obviously the source will never be disclosed. I hope that in future the media tries to do a better job.
Dalvinder Singh Matharu, USA

The hijacking has exposed India's vulnerability to terrorism. India has bowed its head to terrorism. All in all this is a carefully contrived and successfully carried out hijacking. We do not have any incontrovertible proof of who the hijackers are. We do not have answers how they, loaded with knives, guns and grenades, blinded the security checks in Nepal and got into an Indian Airline's plane. Uncooperative governments of Afghan and Pakistan will not reveal the whereabouts of the hijackers. Ever since Musharraf took control of Pakistan, terrorism is on the rise in Indian Kashmir. Their failure in Kargil is avenged through dastardly acts of terrorism. India's failure to act quickly and lack of preparedness to defend from terrorist attacks will have disastrous results. The hijacking will embolden the militants and certainly will set a precedent for increased terrorism in India. It is very sad news.
Ashok, USA/India

Anytime you give in to terrorists you loose. I have sympathy for the hostages and their families, but no government should be held to ransom by a minority.
James Jeffrey, USA, but English

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See also:
03 Jan 00 |  South Asia
India accuses Pakistan over hijack
01 Jan 00 |  South Asia
India's press asks tough questions
31 Dec 99 |  South Asia
Indian airliner hostage deal
29 Dec 99 |  Talking Point
Is the Indian Government doing enough?

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