The aggrieved father of Rupen Katyal, who was killed by the hijackers of Indian Airlines plane IC 814 in 1999, has said that monetary compensation of Rs five lakh could not heal his wounds. “It has no meaning for me,” he said.
The Delhi State Consumer Commission on Thursday directed Indian Airlines to pay Rs 1 lakh each to all the passengers and Rs 5 lakh to the family of Rupen Katyal.
“To someone like me who lost such a young son, this compensation is meaningless. Nor did I move the commission for compensation, as did some Delhi-based passengers. Several organizations from the world over and even former US president Bill Clinton met me in New Delhi after the hijacking and offered financial help, but I have always refused,” said Chandar Mohan Katyal, with tears in his eyes.
Instead, the distraught father shot off a word of advice to the government saying that it must tighten the security scenario or else terrorists could attempt another hijack, this time to demand the release of December 2001 Parliament attack accused Mohammad Afzal.
“Another son of the soil could lose his life the way my son did. Terrorists could now be planning a hijack to have Afzal released the way like they did in the the case of Maulana Azhar Masood.” Indian authorities had to release dreaded terrorist Masood and others in December 1999 in exchange for the passengers on board IC 814.
Married just days before the hijacking, Rupen (then 27) was flying back from Kathmandu airport for his Gurgaon home with wife Rachna. He was the only passenger to have been murdered by the hijackers.
Rachna who remarried, and her 5-year-old daughter Suhani are the only emotional contacts Rupen’s elderly parents have in addition to Rupen’s elder sister who lives in USA.
Sanjay Sharma, a Delhi based exporter who was also aboard the ill-fated flight, said, “The airline was 100 per cent responsible for what happened to those on board. They should have announced it on their own instead of waiting for the court order,” he said.
For Usha Goyal, mother of another passenger Sanjay Gupta, the hijacking meant living away from her son forever. “The incident left me alone in India as my son, who lost faith in the Indian government, decided to settle abroad soon after the incident,” said Goyal.
With inputs from Nazia Alvi