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She got a birthday gift aboard IC-814, from hijackers

It is an autographed birthday gift which still makes Pooja Kataria shiver at the thought of being on board the ill-fated IC-814, but takes the centre stage in her living room.

The gift, a beautiful Kashmiri Pashmina shawl, was given to her by none other than the hijackers of the Indian Airlines plane which had been seized by terrorists. Ms. Kataria, then a newly-wed, was returning from Kathmandu and coincidentally, her birthday came in between the week-long hijack drama.

Ms. Kataria still has vivid memories of the 1999 incident when she had cut an apple on board the flight with hijackers singing birthday wishes for her.

With her well-wishers making calls to wish on her birthday on Sunday, Pooja, now 33, recalls her innocent request to hijacker “burger” alias Sunny Ahmed Qazi to release her along with her husband Rakesh Kataria.

“The memories refuse to fade away. December 27, 1999 was actually my new birth. The hijacker turned down my request and instead offered me an apple,” says Ms. Kataria.

After her marriage with Rakesh Kataria they proceeded to Goa for her honeymoon.

Ms. Kataria, now a mother of two, son Ajeez and daughter Pihu, came back to the national capital after the trip and the couple soon set out for Kathmandu without telling their parents, who did not know about their presence on the flight for two-three days.


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Printable version | Sep 12, 2021 12:37:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/She-got-a-birthday-gift-aboard-IC-814-from-hijackers/article16855826.ece

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