Sunday, October 15, 2006

Ex-hijacker keeps his word, visits pilot

Mumbai: Three unlikely people met on Saturday. One was a former mercenary and the other two were part of the crew of the civilian aeroplane he had tried to hijack in 1981.
Peter Daffy had threatened to kill Air-India pilot Umesh Saxena and 79 other passengers on November 25, 1981, when he hijacked a Boeing 707 from the Seychelles airport.
Daffy said: “I told him (Saxena) we will meet again and we did,” he said. “We Scots do not go back on promises.”
Daffy said events overtook the 50-odd mercenaries on the night of the hijack, when they discovered the Seychelles military had a stronger base just outside the airport.
He claimed that they took over the passenger plane purely as an escape attempt after everything went horribly wrong.
“And we even paid for our drinks on board with our travellers' cheques,” he said. Ulka confirmed: “They did offer us payment but we, as a goodwill gesture, did not charge them.”
Daffy served a 21-month term for “man-stealing” and air piracy after Saxena deposed in a special court at Seychelles. But the hijacker does not hold any grudges.
“He did what he thought was morally correct. He was a fine professional — even told us the exact number of vacant seats in the flight and how many mercenaries he could carry,” Daffy said.
15/10/06 Aditya Ghosh/Hindustan Times