Friday, August 20, 2021

Afghanistan: 'Same scene 20 years apart,' says pilot of hijacked IC 814

As the Taliban took over Afghanistan, Devi Sharan, Captain of the Air India flight IC 814, which was hijacked in December 1999 by the Taliban in Kandahar, said there was no change in the visuals (as seen on television) of Afghanistan now from what he could recall seeing through the cockpit of the hijacked flight during that time.

Speaking to ANI, Sharan said, "I do not think that there is much difference in 20 years. The only difference is that maybe now they seem to be a little educated. People, who had surrounded our aircraft, were not polished."

Expressing his views on the recent press conference by the Taliban, Sharan said: "The kind of behaviour we faced 20 years back, it is difficult to believe how the future will be. But definitely, we had a very bad time in Kandahar."

Giving a slew of assurances on issues ranging from women's rights and safety of Afghan nationals who worked with foreign troops, the Taliban on Tuesday "pledged" that the Islamic emirate in Afghanistan will not pose a threat to any country.

Recalling the situation 20 years back, he said: "They are roaming around in open jeeps with rocket launchers on Kabul streets, just like they did when they were surrounding our aircraft in Kandahar. It was as if nothing has changed."

"That time they were not listening to us. Their only motive was that their demands were fulfilled. We knew that we cannot come out from the situation without accepting their demands."

The captain also lauded the crew of the last Kabul-Delhi Air India flight.

"It is a very good job by all the crew members, operating a flight in such conditions...It is commendable that in such an environment, they operated the flight," he said.

Air India flight AI 244 carrying 129 passengers from Afghanistan's capital Kabul landed in Delhi on August 15.

20/08/21 ANI/Business Standard

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