Kandahar hijack: passengers to get compensation

Nine years after Indian Airlines flight IC-814 was hijacked to Kandahar, the Delhi Consumer Commission has directed the Indian Airlines to pay Rs 1 lakh each to all the flight's passengers at that time. The Commission also awarded a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the family of Rupen Katyal, who was killed by the terrorists in the Delhi-bound flight from Kathmandu.

"It is a fit case where every passenger, who was on board the ill-fated aircraft, is entitled to compensation under the Consumer Protection Act, as all the passengers had suffered the same injury and agony," Commission president Justice J D Kapoor said.

The order has come on the plea of a couple, who were among the passengers. The couple had earlier sought compensation from the airlines for the "mental and physical trauma" undergone during the incident.

The airlines had refused to pay any compensation contending that the flight had taken off from Kathmandu, so the Nepalese authorities were to blame. The Commission however, turned down the plea. "It is incumbent upon the carrier to ensure that no passenger or unauthorised person boards the aircraft and if the airline fails in its duty, they and they alone have to be held guilty for the said negligence and deficiency in service," the Commission said. The Commission directed the airlines to pay the sum within a month of receipt of the order.

The IC-814 flight, with about 180 passengers and crew, was hijacked by five men after it took off from Kathmandu on December 24, 1999. The hijackers sought and secured the release of dreaded terrorists, including Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Azhar Masood, from Indian prisons. One passenger was killed in the incident while others were released after a seven-day ordeal in Kandahar.

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