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The Hijack of Flight IC 814

Updated on September 4, 2017
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Ashutosh believes in alternate views and is skeptical of the mainstream narratives, especially around stories that shocked the world.

Taliban Fighters Walking Past The Hijacked IC 814 Flight At Kandahar Airport (December 27, 1999)
Taliban Fighters Walking Past The Hijacked IC 814 Flight At Kandahar Airport (December 27, 1999)

The Hijack

It all unfolded on that fateful Christmas Eve of 1999 when Air India flight designated IC 814 (Airbus A300) on route to Delhi was hijacked some 40 minutes post take off from Tribhuvan Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal. Five terrorists belonging to terror outfit Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, armed with grenades, knives, and pistols burst into the cockpit and ordered the plane to be diverted to Pakistan. These hijackers were later identified as:

1. Ibrahim Athar, resident of Bahawalpur, Pakistan
2. Shahid Akhtar Sayed, resident of Gulshan Iqbal, Karachi, Pakistan
3. Sunny Ahmed Qazi, resident of Defence Area, Karachi, Pakistan
4. Mistri Zahoor Ibrahim, resident of Akhtar Colony, Karachi, Pakistan
5. Shakir, resident of Sukkur City

The flight had 178 passengers (including 24 foreign nationals) and 11 crew members onboard whose worst nightmare had just begun. They didn't have the slightest of the idea, on what horrors the next 173 hours were about to unleash.

Hijackers of IC 814 - Ibrahim Athar, Sunny Qazi, Shahid Sayed, Mistri Zahoor & Shakir (Left to Right)
Hijackers of IC 814 - Ibrahim Athar, Sunny Qazi, Shahid Sayed, Mistri Zahoor & Shakir (Left to Right)

Sequence of Events

Back then neither terrorism nor hijack was an unfamiliar concept in India. The nation had been hit hard by both internal as well as cross-border terrorism in the past too. As the news of hijack broke out the entire nation was gripped in horror and the government almost shell-shocked. A Crisis Management Group (CMG) meet was immediately called in to monitor the events and seek a further course of action. The CMG headed by the cabinet secretary included the top bureaucrats in the Prime Minister's office including the external intelligence agency, RAW Chief. However, the brainstorming that took place didn't yield any substantial end result. Meanwhile hovering over Pakistani airspace (post being denied entry and running short on fuel) the pilot of IC 814 somehow managed to persuade the terrorists to land the flight at Amritsar Airport in India, that was in close vicinity hoping it would give the Government of India and the concerned authorities an opportunity to end the crisis. Little did he know that the ordeal was still far from over. The plane though did land at Raja Sansi Airport in Amritsar, Punjab. The local forces at Amritsar, who were capable of handling such a terrorist situation were advised to stand down and wait for the elite National Security Guard (NSG) to take over. The government assumed it was much of a risk and they couldn't afford any hasty decisions. The plane remained at Amritsar airport for about 45 minutes, however, the seemingly obvious deliberate delay in refueling made the hijackers suspicious. A rather lazy and haywire attempt by airport authorities to block the runway with a speeding fuel bowser reaffirmed their doubts making them order the captain to take off. When the captain didn't comply, the terrorist threatened to kill the passengers and to create panic stabbed one of the passenger, Rupin Katyal(25), first in the abdomen than in the chest a number of times. At this stage, the helpless Captain was forced to take off without refueling.

The NSG arrived on the scene an hour post the hijacked flight took off from the Indian soil.

The Flight Course Of IC 814 During The Hijack
The Flight Course Of IC 814 During The Hijack
Taliban Militants Praying In Front Of Hijacked IC 814
Taliban Militants Praying In Front Of Hijacked IC 814
Taliban Militia Rushing Towards The Hijacked Airliner
Taliban Militia Rushing Towards The Hijacked Airliner
Taliban Militants Armed With Surface to Air Stinger Missiles, Guarding The Hijacked IC 814
Taliban Militants Armed With Surface to Air Stinger Missiles, Guarding The Hijacked IC 814

Arrival at Kandahar

When news reached New Delhi about terrorists re-attempting to land the plane at Lahore, Pakistan, the Government of India finally sprung in action and then Foreign Minister, Jaswant Singh pleaded his counterpart in Islamabad for assistance, but the request only met deaf ears. For obvious reasons, Pakistan reiterated their previous stand of not allowing the plane to land. It was just a few months back that the arch-rivals India-Pakistan had fought a major war (Kargil War) and the relationship was at an all-time low. To avoid the landing, Lahore air control had even switched off the runway lights. As for the pilot Captain Devi Sharan, it was more of a 'do or die' situation with the fuel almost exhausted, they could either land or crash. It was only after he flew in dangerously close that the airport authorities realized the urgency and allowed the plane to land. Refueling was done, however, Pakistan denied any further assistance, not even attending to the severely injured on humanitarian grounds. So once again flight IC 814 was airborne, embarking on an odyssey across the Asian Subcontinent and the Middle East.

UAE was the next stop-over. Similar to Pakistan, UAE was another Islamic state with which India didn't enjoy warm diplomatic relations. Though UAE Government allowed the flight to land but rejected India's request of allowing a commando rescue mission to be carried out. They too wanted the plane out of their air space asap. India had expected US to put pressure on UAE to comply however India only found itself isolated internationally. Some negotiations, however, did take place and in exchange for fuel and food, the hijackers released 28 hostages, mostly women, and children. The body of the deceased passenger was also handed over. That young man's death was one of the tragic events in this whole episode as it had robbed his parents of their only son and a bride of her 20-day-old husband. Their extended honeymoon trip had eventually ended up on that ill-fated flight.

The very next morning post hijack, IC 814 had a final touchdown at Kandahar Airport in Afghanistan, which was then a hostile territory under the control of Taliban militia. Guarded by heavily armed Taliban militia the plane remained parked on the tarmac for next seven days until finally on Dec 31st, 1999 the negotiations between the government of India and the terrorists concluded. With the release of three dreaded terrorists, the fiasco ultimately ended. All the freed hostages were flown back to India on a special plane. The hijackers soon disappeared and were believed to have crossed into Pakistan.

Timeline of IC 814 Hijack
Timeline of IC 814 Hijack
Jaswant Singh(C), Former Indian FM at a press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan
Jaswant Singh(C), Former Indian FM at a press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan

The Negotiations

Dec 27, 1999, three days post the hijack, a plane with essential commodities, doctors, relief crew and a negotiating team left for Kandahar. The negotiating team was spearheaded by representatives from both IB (Intelligence Bureau) and RAW (Research & Analysis Wing) and also had participation from Ministry of External Affairs and Bureau of Civil Aviation Security. As the negotiations opened up between the Indian government and the hijackers, following demands were immediately put forth:

  1. The release of three terrorists held in Indian prisons viz Maulana Masood Azhar (Pakistani), Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar (Indian) and Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh (British national of Pakistani origin) in addition to the release of 35 other jailed terrorists.
  2. US$200 million for securing the release of 154 hostages.
  3. The hijackers had also demanded that the former Harkat-ul-Ansar chief in Jammu & Kashmir, Sajjad Afghani be exhumed and his coffin be handed over to them.

However, post several discussions and interference by the Taliban government headed by Mullah Omar, some of the demands were dropped. Finally, in exchange for the hostages, the release of the three terrorists as demanded was secured. It's a no-brainer that government of India had paid a hefty price in the form of release of three dreaded terrorists who were further going to wage a war against the country and pursue their extremist agenda.

Who were these three men, that terrorists desperately wanted out?

  1. Maulana Masood Azhar, a notorious Pakistani militant responsible for operating terrorist outfits in Indian Kashmir. He was arrested back in 1994 when he had come to India to settle some disputes between different factions of his jihadist outfit, the Harkat-ul-Ansar. He was of such high value that to get his release, his group floated a front group, Al-Faran, which in 1995 kidnapped six foreign trekkers in south Kashmir and held them hostage in the mountains, demanding the release of Masood Azhar and twenty other terrorists but the requests were out-rightly rejected. There were some more similar attempts in the coming years but all in vain. He was a captive in Kot Bhalwal prison on the outskirts of Jammu.
  2. Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, aka Omar Sheikh, a British national of Pakistani origin and former London School of Economics student, who was affiliated to various terror outfits including Jaish e Mohammed, Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Pakistan's former President and Army Chief, Pervez Musharraf in his book 'In the Line of Fire: A Memoir' alleged that he was recruited by the British MI6 while he was at LSE. He was arrested in 1994 for the kidnapping of four foreign tourists (an American and three Britons) from a village in Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh, India and incarcerated in the high-security Tihar prison in New Delhi
  3. Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar, born in Kashmir he was the front man of the terror outfit Al-Umar Mujahideen and has been involved in terrorist activities and separatist movements in the Kashmir valley since mid-80's. In August 1989, Zargar carried out the kidnapping of Rubaiya Sayeed, the daughter of then Home Minister of India Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and secured release of five of his comrades in exchange for Rubaiya Sayeed’s release. He was wanted for at least three dozen murder cases in Srinagar, Kashmir, including some high-ranking Indian officers. He is also believed to be involved in killings of Kashmiri Pandits during the Kashmiri Pandit exodus in 1989-90. Zargar was arrested on 15 May 1992 and incarcerated in Srinagar.

Terrorists Released by Government of India, Maulana Masood Azhar(L), Mushtaq Zargar(C),Omar Sheikh(R)
Terrorists Released by Government of India, Maulana Masood Azhar(L), Mushtaq Zargar(C),Omar Sheikh(R)

Investigation & Trials

Reeling under criticism for having failed to prevent the hijack, the investigating agencies somehow exhibited a tremendous amount of competence, when it came to unearthing the whole conspiracy and nabbing the accomplices of the hijackers.

The breakthrough came even before the week-long hijack concluded. On December 24, the day the hijack took place, Mumbai crime branch, that was already keeping a watch on the movements of Abdul Latif Adam Momin, a supposed Harkat-ul-Mujahideen protege chanced upon a telephone call made by him to Karachi, Pakistan. The conversation, according to intelligence agencies was between Latif and Abdul Rauf, Maulana Azhar Masood's younger brother. Rauf was believed to be the mastermind behind this hijack. Through hawala routes, he had also supposedly transferred INR 78,000 twice for the operation. It's still unclear though if the initial leads were provided by RAW.

Then began a trail for Latif at his suspected hideouts and finally, he was nabbed on December 30th, 1999, with a cache of weapons including a grenade launcher and AK47. During interrogation, he agreed to have helped the hijackers secure fake passports and also confessed to having robbed a cooperative bank in Mumbai to fund the whole operation. In several rounds of raids that followed Latif's arrest, 22 more arrests were made, post which trials began. 28 witnesses were examined in the trial out of which 8 turned hostile during the course of the investigation. Fast forward to October 2012, of the 22 accused, 19 were finally acquitted by the court while two died during the trials and one was discharged from the case.

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) during its findings named 10 accused of conspiring and executing the hijacking including seven Pakistanis. Abdul Rauf Asghar being the key conspirator, two Indians - Abdul Latif Adam Momin and Dilip Kumar Bhujel and a Nepalese, Yusuf Nepali. In February 2014, the High Court upheld the life imprisonment awarded to Latif but turned down CBI's request for capital punishment. A few months later in April, Yusuf Nepali (54) was released from Patiala Central Jail after the courts exonerated him. Supreme Court in April 2017, admitted for hearing an appeal filed by Abdul Latif Adam Momin, against the life imprisonment awarded to him in the case.

Nepalese agencies that were coordinating with India in the investigation had revealed that a Pakistani diplomat, Mohammed Arshad Cheema (the First Secretary in Pakistan Embassy in Nepal) was spotted at the Tribhuvan airport on the day of hijack. The reason why his presence raised eyebrows was simply because of Cheema's previous dubious record. He had previously been accused of supplying RDX Explosives to terror outfits and also pumping fake currency in India via Nepal as an undercover ISI officer. In 2001, Nepal's security agencies finally apprehended him with 16 Kg RDX explosives in his bungalow in Baneshwor near downtown Kathmandu. He however conveniently escaped prosecution by invoking diplomatic immunity and was declared persona non grata and sent back to Pakistan.

It wasn't all a hunky dory investigation though and there had been lapses too. Back in 2012, the Kashmiri Police had claimed a big breakthrough in the IC 814 investigation post they arrested Mehrajuddin Wani. He had been repeatedly in touch with Arshad Cheema in Nepal. Though later it was claimed that he was an informer for the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and had been supplying crucial information to intelligence agencies for past six years.

27th January 2000, Maulana Masood Azhar(C) spotted at a mosque in Islamabad along with his guards
27th January 2000, Maulana Masood Azhar(C) spotted at a mosque in Islamabad along with his guards

The Aftermath

The immediate after effect of this incident was undoubtedly a huge blow to the fight against terrorism. The release of terrorists meant the strengthening of their cadre and foothold, enabling them to pursue their extremist agenda and boost their jihadist activities in the Kashmir region and elsewhere.

  • Maulana Masood Azhar after his release in 2000 formed the Islamic terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), with the sole purpose of waging war against India. He is believed to have masterminded the attack on Indian Parliament on 13 December 2001 that killed 7 and injured 18 others. An attack that brought India-Pakistan on the brink of yet another war. He is also accused as one of the key conspirators of the Pathankot Airbase attack on 2nd January 2016. Despite JeM been declared a terrorist outfit by UN, Maulana still, walks a free man carrying out his vicious propaganda and inflammatory speeches on raging jihad against India. Despite India's repetitive attempt to declare him a global terrorist, Chinese veto at UN always finds him an escape route. The complicit behavior of Pakistani authorities is a no-brainer either, as they time and again put him under house arrest to deceive the world.
  • Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar renewed the activity of his terror outfit Al-Umar Mujahideen in Muzaffarabad, Pakistan, close to the Indian border, recruiting and training young Muslims to the guerrilla war in Indian Kashmir.
  • Omar Saeed Sheikh or Omar Sheikh continued his association with various militant organizations including Al-Qaeda, JeM, and the Taliban. He was arrested in Pakistan in 2002 and sentenced to death for kidnapping and beheading of reporter Daniel Pearl, who was the South Asia bureau chief of Wall Street Journal and was investigating militant groups in Karachi, Pakistan. Omar was also accused of aiding US$100,000 to Mohamed Atta, one of the conspirators of 911 who flew the hijacked airliner into the WTC.

IC 814 hijack story also presented an opportunity for Indian politicians and in no time became a slugfest in Indian political arena. It did give enough arsenal to the opposition parties against the ruling NDA Government and remained a hot button for a while. Irrespective of whether the Vajpayee-led NDA Government succumbed to the pressure of accountability towards its citizens onboard IC 814, the compromise made was seen as a big blow to 'fight against terrorism'. It essentially blotted Vajpayee government's "tough-on-terror" claims and also highlighted clumsiness and incapability of effective crisis management in the higher echelons of the ruling dispensation.

The government of Nepal which was also in limelight due to brazen security lapses took measures to strengthen its airport security. The move came post Government of India suspended its flights to Nepal for six months post the hijacking episode.

Back in India after the new government led by Congress came into power a request was made to the US Government in March 2005 to share information to assist in a speedy trial and uncover the aspects of the entire operations. Following were the key pointers:

  1. To liaise with the concerned American authorities relating to the reported seizure of documents relating to the hijacking of IC-814 by US forces operating in Afghanistan.
  2. To collect evidence relating to the landing of the flight at Kandahar and the roles played by Afghan Taliban authorities.
  3. To get the responses from Mr. Mansoor Akhtar, ex-Civil Aviation Minister in the Taliban Government of Afghanistan, and Mr. Akhtar Usmani, the Taliban corps commander in Kandahar (reportedly in the custody of the American authorities) during the hijacking crisis.
  4. Examine the possibilities of getting statements from some important Taliban functionaries, now reportedly under the custody of American authorities.
  5. Any additional information available regarding the whereabouts/location/hideouts of the seven Pakistani nationals involved in the hijacking of IC-814.
  6. Any information available in the United States on the conduct of these aforesaid seven accused terrorists prior to, during, and after the hijacking of IC-814.
  7. Any photographs that may be available in the United States of accused Abdul Rauf, a key conspirator.
  8. Any additional evidence available in the United States relating to the landing of the hijacked aircraft at Lahore Airport, its subsequent refueling, take-off, etc.

The US, however, never complied stating they first needed more information from Indian agencies. They had previously termed the terrorist trade off for the hostages as 'ignominious and defeat'. The same was revealed in the Wikileaks Cables.

IC 814 hijack story

Disclosures That Followed

Some of the most tragic incidents, coups, major crisis or government failures across the world are often brought to limelight years later by whistleblowers or through the first-hand account of the people that were directly or indirectly involved or had been a close observer. Suddenly these exposures bring about a paradigm shift in the entire narrative. Ironically a lot of times these exposures turn out to be mere hoaxes or are sometimes deliberately brushed aside as conspiracy theories. This hijack story too had its fair share of curiosity and criticism that followed from the insider accounts of the various parties involved at some level in this crisis situation.

Kanchan Gupta who was then an aide to PM Vajpayee in the PMO (Prime Minister's Office), later gave an insider view on how the events unfolded. Though he tried to downplay the whole episode, the message was perhaps loud and clear though that a major 'goof-up' had happened and the national security had been left almost unattended to. The first glaring or rather embarrassing admittance was that Prime Minister Vajpayee who was on an official tour was not even alerted of this major crisis and it was not until his official flight landed at New Delhi airport that he was apprised of the developments. Roughly an hour and a half later. Excuse later floated was technical challenges in relaying information. According to Gupta, Crisis Management Group (CMG) had alerted the elite National Security Guards (NSG) as they were the best resource trained to handle such hostage situations. However they never made it on time to Amritsar, why did that happen was again left with some seemingly vague answers.

Now it's interesting that the CMG had good three hours including the crucial 45 minutes when the plane landed in Punjab Airport. However, they couldn't come up with a concrete strategy before the plane took off from Indian soil. Needless to mention that for CMG this wasn't a first of its kind situation. They have had handled such a situations in the past and handled it well.

On 24th April 1993, Indian Airlines flight IC 427 Delhi - Srinagar was hijacked with 141 people onboard. The hijacker identified as Jalaluddin, carrying pistol and a hand grenade demanded that the flight be taken to Kabul. Air Traffic Control of Lahore refused to permit the aircraft to enter Pakistan airspace. The aircraft ultimately landed at 1520 hrs, at Amritsar. The negotiations began, however, could not reach a conclusion and at around 2300 hrs the hijacker gave a final ultimatum for refueling the aircraft failing which he would blow it up. The CMG gave green signal to the NSG commandos to commence operation at will. Storming operation by NSG was started at about 0100 hrs on 25th April and in a few minutes, the hijacking was terminated without any casualty or injury to any passenger or crew members.

Some more disclosure followed in the coming years as references through books penned down by people who were directly or indirectly involved at some point in the entire buildup. One such prominent reference was that of A S Dulat, former chief of the Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) in his book ‘Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years’. He didn't squarely blame the government for the lapses but it was more of a read between the lines. "Then Punjab police chief Sarabjit Singh said that he had never been told by Delhi to stop the plane from taking off. But that he had told Delhi that he had “Punjab commandos trained in anti-terrorism operations who could storm the aircraft but Delhi's response was that it did not want any casualties. At that time reporters covering the event wrote of how an attempt had been made to block the path of the aircraft by moving a fuel truck, but that it was such a clumsy effort that the hijackers were alerted and insisted on the plane taking off for Lahore. The movement of the fuel bowser reflected the chaos in Delhi, as it moved on to the tarmac, stopped and seemed to be waiting for instructions. We also tried to prevail on the Americans to put pressure on the United Arab Emirates to allow us a raid, but India found itself isolated internationally." he wrote.

Then Home Minister and a senior leader L K Advani often referred as the 'Iron Man" in his book ‘My Country, My Life” shifted the blame squarely on the US, the UAE and of course Pakistan for not doing enough. He wrote “I felt that the Americans, with their considerable military presence and diplomatic influence in the Gulf region, could have taken some effective proactive steps to put the hijacked plane out of action, so that Indian commandos could be sent there to rescue the hostages.I was deeply disappointed that they did not even try. A few days after the crisis had ended, when Blackwill called on me, I expressed my displeasure to him. ‘This is not what we understand by Indo-US cooperation in fighting terrorism,’ I told him,”. Well! All said and done owning up wouldn't have rusted his mettle.

Former RAW officer, R K Yadav, in his book Mission R&AW mentioned days before the hijacking, a junior RAW operative in Kathmandu informed his senior Officer SBS Tomar about Pakistani terrorists planning to hijack an Indian plane. Tomar, however, had rubbished the report and erred by not alerting RAW headquarters in Delhi about a possible hijack. Call it fate or whatever, Tomar himself had ended up on that very flight. Yadav also goes on to claim that the critical delay at Amritsar Airport happened to ensure the safety of Tomar as his wife was the youngest sibling of N K Singh, who was one of the most powerful bureaucrats in the Prime Minister's Office and was a part of Crisis Management Group that monitored the entire hijack episode.

Pakistani Journalist Zahid Hussain, who was in Kandahar during the entire hijacking episode, later disclosed in his book Frontline Pakistan that Afghan sources had revealed that the hijackers were taking instructions from the Pakistani intelligence officers (ISI) present at the airport.

Some independent editorials also claimed that the requested bounty of US$20 Million was actually paid and Jaswant Singh, then foreign minister went with the money on the plane that also carried the three terrorists. However the same was never verified. Congressman R K Anand in his letter had alleged that money was flown to Kandahar. While the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) had acknowledged receiving Anand's letter, nothing more was done on the matter even by the subsequent Congress-led UPA Government that came to power in 2004.

An article published in Sunday Guardian (17 August 2013) claimed that the GOI had prior information on the hijack but it chose to ignore it. According to an RTI filed by a Delhi activist, a Shillong-based businessman Uma Shankar Mishra had written a letter to the Chief Secretary of Meghalaya on 29 September 1999, 84 days before the hijack, informing the state government about the "plan to hijack airplane from Kathmandu, Nepal." Mishra was tipped about the plan by a former ISI agent Ibrahim Hussain.

Public Reaction

Turbulent times like these often binds up even the most divided sections in the society or country as a whole. This was far from reality in this particular case. While the concern, restlessness, and discontent from the family members of those on board the hijacked flight was somewhat expected but the public at large seemed to have divided opinions. That spirit of unity and solidarity seemed lacking during these testing times. Even the politicians while unanimous in their support for government action yet were joining demonstrations to further fuel the agitation and impose unnecessary pressure on the government. Media too was busy milking the cow. An apparent example was seen by the response of crowd on the way they booed down a war widow who had volunteered to address the affected families and request them to maintain calm. Even the External Affairs Minister while addressing public gathering was sent back with rather disheartening words "To hell with the country and the national interest", "Give away Kashmir if need be".


The Mystery Passengers

Among the lesser known facts was the presence of Roberto Giori on the same flight. One of Switzerland's richest men also referred to as 'currency tycoon' and the owner of the Lausanne-based company De La Rue Giori that dealt in printing currency of about 150 nations worldwide and almost had a monopoly on currency printing then. He had boarded the Flight IC 814 after a holiday in Kathmandu with his companion Cristina Calabresi.

Two days after the hijack, on Sunday, 26 December, the Swiss Foreign Minister, Mr. Joseph Deiss, had a long telephone conversation with his Indian counterpart, Mr. Jaswant Singh. According to Geneva's Le Temps, the message was tough and direct: "Everything must be done to obtain the liberation of the passengers, but on condition that the security of the hostages is guaranteed.'' The Swiss Government had set up a separate cell in the capital Berne to deal with the crisis and had also sent a special envoy, Mr. Hans Stalder, to Kandahar who regularly reported back to Berne. According to the Repubblica and Corriere Della Sera newspapers, ever since his return to Switzerland by a special plane, Mr. Roberto Giori was placed under the protection of the Swiss Government which was filtering and scrutinizing his telephone calls to verify that the accomplices of the hijackers have not been able to identify or trace him.

The question remains, what was a rich and elite like him doing on a low-cost airliner when he could have easily flown in a chartered flight?

Besides Mr. Giori, there was yet another mystery passenger on board IC 814. Mr. SBS Tomar, who was a senior officer in the intelligence agency, RAW. Except for few top officials in the government, no one knew of his presence. However on 27th December while negotiations were still ongoing in Kandahar, the Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman, Tariq Altaf, blew off his cover before the International Press in Islamabad. He went ahead of accusing Tomar to be the mastermind behind the hijack in order to help Pakistan wash off its hands completely. Indian media though remained censored on this news until the safety of all passengers was secured. It was later revealed he was on an unofficial trip to India to see his wife. His presence in the flight was later reaffirmed by the ex-RAW chief A S Daulat. The story was first carried out in the Frontline magazine January 2000 issue in India.

Do you think that the government failed in efficiently handling this major crisis situation?

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Did the Indian Government err in releasing the three dreaded terrorists? Perhaps that's a question which actually has no correct answer. However, considering failed diplomacy, goof-ups along the eight-day ordeal and critical lapses, it wouldn't be wrong to say that the Indian Government had been completely outmaneuvered by a handful of terrorists during this whole hijack episode.

References

http://mea.gov.in/articles-in-indian-media.htm?dtl/15880/The+ghosts+of+IC814
https://www.thequint.com/india/2015/07/03/what-dulat-didnt-reveal-raw-officer-was-on-hijacked-plane-ic-814.amp
http://www.thehindu.com/2000/01/06/stories/01060003.htm
Communication between Government of India 
and US Government, Wikileaks Cables 2005
 
Various perspectives and insider accounts referenced in books quoted in the article
http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2053713,00.html
http://nepalitimes.com/~nepalitimes/news.php?id=8228#.WT6yXOuGPIU
http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/ic-814-hijack-tough-negotiation-begins-as-india-is-up-against-desperate-terrorists-and-talibans/1/243269.html
 
http://foreignminister.gov.au/releases/1999/fa140_99.html
http://www.sunday-guardian.com/news/govt-was-warned-of-ic-814-kandahar-hijack

© 2016 Ashutosh Joshi

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    • AshutoshJoshi06 profile image
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      Ashutosh Joshi 6 months ago from New Delhi, India

      hahaha thanks for taking the time. You know how I feel about 'Conspiracy Theory' - I see two impactful words when seperate 'Conspiracy' and 'Theory' and a deliberate meaningless term when merged. If you know what I mean.

      Anyways, good luck with that!!

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      Bhuvan K 6 months ago

      There were a lot of interesting pieces here, specially the mystery passengers. Thinking of these events makes me wanna become a conspiracy theorist for once.

    • AshutoshJoshi06 profile image
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      Ashutosh Joshi 10 months ago from New Delhi, India

      Glad, that you liked it. Tried my best to stick to the facts.

    • Anita Hasch profile image

      Anita Hasch 10 months ago from Port Elizabeth

      Thank you for a interesting and informative hub.