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Hijackers collected 71000 Rs. as gift to Taliban.

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    Hijackers collected 71000 Rs. as gift to Taliban.

    By Our Staff Reporter (The Hindu)

    NEW DELHI, JAN. 2. The hijackers of the Indian Airlines plane would like the incident to be remembered for a long time to come. Perhaps this is what prompted them to urge the passengers to collect money for making a gold-plated model of a plane with ``Indian Airlines IC-814'' inscribed on it for installation at a Kandahar museum.

    On the night of December 30, the most popular of the hijackers, Burger, told the passengers that 80 per cent of the negotiations had been finalised with the Indian Government. Stating that all the deals were being put on paper, he told the passengers that in all probability, ``with God's grace'', they would be free the following morning.

    However, as one of the hostages, Rajinder Singh, recalled: ``Burger also asked us, what kind of people we were. The Taliban has done so much for you, would you not like to give them something. Then he told us to voluntarily donate money for their cause.''

    A paper bag was circulated in which the passengers put in their contributions. Rajinder Singh said over Rs. 71,000 was collected in dollars, and Indian and Nepalese currency. This was announced by Burger over his hand-held loudspeaker.

    Once the money was collected, Burger asked the passengers what gift they would like to give the Taliban. ``After people made various suggestions, he opined that we should rather give them a model of the Indian Airlines plane, a gold-plated one at that.''

    Then two passengers were chosen by Burger who handed them Rs 20,000 for getting such a model prepared. The task of handing over the model to the Taliban was entrusted to a Nepali passenger, who was given the rest of the money.

    This Nepali passenger, who works for a non-governmental organisation in Afghanistan and is based in Peshawar, Pakistan, was instructed to carry the plane model to Afghanistan and get it installed in a museum. As another passenger, Mr. Vipin Menon, pointed out, ``he was also told to donate the rest of the amount to a hospital in Kandahar.''

    `Noble' gestures indeed from hijackers who were responsible for the agony of the passengers, their relatives and most of all the family of Rupin Katyal.


    Fata Morgana


      Was this Nepali the same who was declared as one of the terrorist by the Indian intelligence agencies as they had irrefutable evidence of his involvement, and ended having egg on their face when he landed in Delhi as one of the passenger.