Indian Airlines Flight 814

Indian Airlines Flight 814
Indian Airlines Flight 814

Taliban militia in front of the hijacked plane
Hijacking summary
Date December 24–31, 1999
Type Hijacking
Site Hijacked between Kathmandu, Nepal, and Delhi. India, in Indian airspace, landed at Amritsar, India; Lahore, Pakistan; Dubai; and Kandahar, Afghanistan
Passengers 178
Crew 15
Injuries 17
Fatalities 1 (Rupin Katyal)
Survivors 192
Aircraft type Airbus A300
Operator Indian Airlines
Tail number VT-EDW
Flight origin Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu, Nepal
Destination Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi, India

Indian Airlines Flight 814 commonly known as IC 814 was an Indian Airlines Airbus A300 en route from Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal to Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi, India on Friday, December 24, 1999, when it was hijacked. Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, a Pakistan-based group, was accused for the hijacking.

The aircraft was hijacked by armed gunmen shortly after it entered Indian airspace at about 17:30 IST. After touching down in Amritsar, Lahore and Dubai, the hijackers forced the aircraft to land in Kandahar, Afghanistan. The hijackers released 27 of 176 passengers in Dubai but fatally stabbed one and wounded several others.

India's lack of recognition of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan complicated negotiations between Indian authorities and the hijackers. Taliban moved its well-armed fighters near the hijacked aircraft in an attempt to prevent Indian special forces from storming the aircraft. The hijacking lasted for seven days and ended after India released three militants — Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and Maulana Masood Azhar.



The Indian Airlines flight 814 (VT-EDW) had 178 passengers on board (most of whom were Indian nationals) that were coming to India after vacationing in Nepal.[1] was hijacked on December 24, 1999, shortly after the aircraft entered Indian airspace at about 17:30 IST.[2] The identities of the hijackers according to the Indian Government were:[3]

  1. Ibrahim Azhar, Bahawalpur, Pakistan
  2. Shahid Akhtar Sayed, Karachi, Pakistan
  3. Sunny Ahmed Qazi, Karachi, Pakistan
  4. Mistri Zahoor Ibrahim, Karachi, Pakistan
  5. Shakir, Sukkur, Pakistan

Anil Sharma, the chief flight attendant on IC-814, later recalled that a masked, bespectacled man threatened to blow up the plane with a bomb and ordered Captain Devi Sharan to "fly west".[4] The hijackers wanted Captain Sharan to divert the aircraft over Lucknow and head towards Lahore. However, there was insufficient fuel. Captain Sharan told the hijackers that they had to land in Amritsar, India.[4]

Landing in Amritsar, India

At Amritsar, Captain Sharan requested refueling the aircraft. However, the Crisis Management Group in Delhi directed Amritsar Airport authorities to ensure that the plane was immobilised, which armed personnel of the Punjab police were already in position to try to do. They did not receive approval from New Delhi. Eventually, a fuel tanker was dispatched and instructed to block the approach of the aircraft. As the tanker sped towards the aircraft, air traffic control radioed the pilot to slow down, and the tanker immediately came to a stop. This sudden stop aroused the hijackers' suspicion and they forced the aircraft to take off immediately, without clearance from air traffic control. The aircraft missed the tanker by only a few feet and flew away[5]

Landing in Lahore, Pakistan

Due to extremely low fuel level, the aircraft requested emergency landing in Lahore, Pakistan. Pakistan initially denied the request fearing that their country might be linked with the terrorists. Pakistan also shut down their air traffic services, thus effectively blackening the whole of Pakistan airspace for the Indian Airlines flight and switched off all lights at Lahore Airport.[6] With no help from ATC, Captain Sharan banked on his visual instincts and began descending on what he thought was a runway only to find out that it was a well-lit road and aborted landing the aircraft in time.[7] On understanding that the only other option for the aircraft was to crash land, Lahore Airport switched on its lights and allowed the aircraft to land. Lahore airport officials refueled the aircraft and allowed it to leave Lahore at 22:32 IST. Pakistani officials rejected the pilot's request to offload some women and children passengers.[8]

Landing in Dubai, UAE

The aircraft took off for Dubai where 27 passengers aboard the flight were released.[8] The hijackers also released a critically injured 25-year-old Indian male, Rupin Katyal, who was stabbed by the hijackers multiple times. Rupin later succumbed to his injuries becoming the only casualty of the hijacking.[9]

Soon after the release of these passengers, the plane left for Kandahar International Airport.[2]

Landing in Kandahar, Afghanistan

After the aircraft landed in Kandahar, Taliban authorities, in an attempt to gain international recognition, agreed to cooperate with Indian authorities and took the role of mediators between the hijackers and the Indian government.[10] Since India did not recognise the Taliban regime, it dispatched an official from its High Commission in Islamabad to Kandahar.[8] India's lack of previous contact with the Taliban regime complicated the negotiating process.[11][12]

However, the intention of the Taliban was under doubt after its armed fighters surrounded the aircraft.[13] The Taliban maintained that the forces were deployed in an attempt to dissuade the hijackers from killing or injuring the hostages but some analysts believe it was done to prevent an Indian military operation against the hijackers.[14][15]


Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who had been imprisoned in connection with the 1994 Kidnappings of Western tourists in India, went on to murder Daniel Pearl and also allegedly played a significant role in planning the September 11 attacks in the United States.[21]

After the three militants landed in Kandahar, the hostages aboard the flight were freed. On December 31, 1999, the freed hostages of the Indian Airlines Flight 814 were flown back to India on a special plane.[citation needed]

In popular culture

The Hindi movie Zameen is a Bollywood adaptation of the hijacking. In the movie, a flight by Indian Airlines is hijacked to Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

Miditech of Gurgaon, Haryana created Air Hijack, that re-enacts the event. The documentary appeared on the National Geographic Channel.[22][23]

The 2010 Malayalam film Kandahar is loosely based on the events of the hijacking.[24]

The book 173 Hours In Captivity is about the hijacking, and the following events.

The 2011 Telugu cum Tamil Movie Gaganam /Payanam is also based on this Hijack, although it has an alternate ending of capturing the hijackers in a commando operation.

See also


  1. ^ "Air Hijack." [Documentary TV show] Miditech.
  2. ^ a b Vohra, Ranbir (2000). The making of India. M.E. Sharpe. ISBN 9780765607119. 
  3. ^ Indian Embassy: Identity of the hijackers.
  4. ^ a b "How Govt lost the IC-814 hijack deal". 2006-09-07. Retrieved 2006-09-07. 
  5. ^ "Cover Story: Hijacking; ... in Amritsar, a speeding tanker causes panic". 2000-01-10. Retrieved 2010-06-08. 
  6. ^ "Cover Story: Hijacking; ... in Lahore, there is a political sideshow". 2000-01-10. Retrieved 2010-06-08. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b c India-Pakistan in war & peace By Jyotindra Nath Dixit
  9. ^ An eight-day ordeal
  10. ^ Pakistan's ISI By Srikanta Ghosh
  11. ^ The greater game By David Van Praagh
  12. ^ Riedel, Bruce. "The Search for al-Qaeda", 2008
  13. ^ Hijacking and Terror in Sky By Giriraj Shah
  14. ^ Inside Al Qaeda By Rohan Gunaratna
  15. ^ Hijacking and hostages By J. Paul de B. Taillon
  16. ^ The Independent: Pakistan blamed by India for raid on parliament
  17. ^ How we missed the story By Roy Gutman
  18. ^ "Profile: Omar Saeed Sheikh". BBC News. 2002-07-16. Retrieved 2010-05-05. 
  19. ^ Online NewsHour Update: Pakistan Convicts Four Men in Pearl Murder - July 15, 2002
  20. ^ Abhinandan Mishra (2008-07-27). "India's Response To Terrorism - Are We Losing The War?". Archived from [8126110902 the original] on 2008-08-04. Retrieved 2008-08-04. 
  21. ^ CNN Transcript "Suspected Mastermind of Pearl Killing Arrested". CNN. 2001-02-07. Retrieved 2006-06-29.  February 12, 2002.
  22. ^ IC 814 Hijack
  23. ^ "Inside the world of terror". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 2007-09-05. 
  24. ^ IndiaGlitz - Big B in 'Kandahaar' along with Sunil Shetty - Bollywood Movie News

External links

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