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Nepal to script Indian Airlines hijack saga
Published on 2 Feb. 2009 11:28 PM IST
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Ten years after an Indian Airlines aircraft on the way to New Delhi from Kathmandu was hijacked by terrorists, resulting in the killing of a passenger and a stunning blow to Nepal’s tourism industry, the Himalayan republic is gearing up to narrate its version of the ordeal. "For seven days, the plane was kept in Kandahar by the hijackers," says Nepali film director Dayaram Dahal, who this summer begins shooting his new film on an event that besmirched Nepal's image in the eyes of the world, some of it without just cause. "This entire while, the world was made to think that a Nepali actor who was on board, Gajendra Tamrakar, was involved in the conspiracy when he was an innocent victim like the rest. When finally the drama ended and the passengers were released, Tamrakar returned to Nepal and shared his psychological trauma with us. His sufferings form the ground on which our film will be based." The yet to be named Nepali feature film will highlight the fact that terrorism knows no boundaries. "Terrorism is a global menace," says the 38-year-old director. "You have people from Nepal involved in acts in India, Indians involved in attacks in the US and Americans involved in Nepal. All the world has been suffering under terror attacks. When the IA flight was hijacked, the pain and repercussions were not felt by India and Indians alone, Nepal too suffered. But Nepal’s story has not been heard." A 25-year-old newly wed passenger, Rupin Katyal, was killed by the hijackers, who also threatened to kill other passengers. All of it will go into the Nepali film. "Of course, much of it will be symbolic," says Dahal. "There won’t be any exact representation. I mean, we are not showing an IA plane as being hijacked or name the passenger who is killed Katyal in our story." While the original event did not have any heroes, Dahal’s film will have Bhuvan KC, Nepal’s mature matinee idol, as a police pilot. KC and Dahal had teamed up for an action film last year, "Ma Timi Bina Mari Halchhu" (I’ll die without you), that did spectacular success and paved the way for a series of new films in Kollywood, Nepal’s formerly ailing film industry. The nearly 60 passengers on the ill-fated flight had a brush with terror on Dec 24, 1999 when five armed hijackers forced the pilot to divert the plane towards Pakistan. It landed at Lahore for refuelling and then moved to Dubai, where in exchange for food and medicine, the captors released 25 hostages as well as the body of Katyal. On Christmas Day, the plane reached Kandahar and the hijackers began negotiations with the Indian authorities. On December 31, the high-tension drama ended with India freeing three jailed terrorists to secure the release of the remaining passengers. A sequel was added last year after an Indian court jailed three accomplices of the hijackers, including two Indians and a Nepali. Now the memory of the terror will be revived again as Dahal hopes to release the new film by 2009.

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