Pan Am Flight hijack: HC asks Centre to take up issue with US
Chandigarh: The Punjab and Haryana High Court has asked the Centre to take up with the US government the issue of "discrimination" in payment of compensation against Indian victims of the 1986 Pan Am Flight 73 hijack case.
A HC bench headed by Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul had passed the order last week on a petition filed by Chandigarh resident Aneesh Bhanot, through his counsel Ranjan Lakhanpal.
Bhanot`s sister, Neerja, a Chief Purser with the Pan Am Airlines, was gunned down by the terrorists who had entered the aircraft posing as Pakistani Police personnel, when she tried to save three US children.
The petitioner prayed that Indian citizens who suffered in the Pan Am flight hijack should not be discriminated against and paid compensation on par with American citizens.
During hearing, his counsel told the court that though the US had been paid US Dollars 1.5 billion by the Government of Libya to compensate the victims, the US authorities discriminated against Indians killed and injured in the attack and decided that the money would be paid only to its citizens.
As many as 13 Indians were killed and around 120 Indian passengers injured after the Pan American World Airways Boeing was hijacked on September 5, 1986, while on the ground at Karachi. The aircraft, with 360 passengers on board, began its journey in Mumbai, and was on its way to New York via Karachi and Frankfurt.
Lakhanpal said the issue of discrimination was taken up with the US government a number of times, but no positive response was received. He said even the Government of India has adopted a very evasive stand on the issue.
He said a representation had been made to the Centre on January 6, 2014, but no response had been received.
In his petition, Bhanot had sought directions to the Centre to take up the issue with the US authorities and to ensure safety and security of Indian passengers on-board US airlines in case of a terrorist attack, so that they are not abandoned like in the case of the Pan Am Flight 73.
He also prayed that the respondents be directed to ask the US airlines operating from India to provide for proper procedures and processes they would follow, so that Indians who are buying their tickets and adding to their profits are not abandoned in case of a terrorist attack.