Newlyweds Manish Mehra and his wife Rupal had just boarded the Srinagar-bound flight from New Delhi’s airport. After their marriage a month later, they took off for a week-long honeymoon in Kashmir.
Like any other just married couple, both Rupal and Manish looked radiant and were excited about the journey. Love was in the air. In the plane, holding each other’s hands they had settled in their seats.
And then… everyone on board heard a loud and hoarse voice of a passenger cum terrorist… he declared that,
“We have hijacked you…”
He yelled out to all the passengers and the crew too, to remain seated and put their hands up. The passengers were stunned to hear that.
Four masked gunmen came right in front of all. Now, one of them barged into the pilot’s cockpit.
The hijacker placed his gun on the pilot’s head and threatened to quietly follow his instructions, by making an announcement.
The pilot had by now alerted the control rooms of both Srinagar and Delhi, about the plane’s hijack status.
“We are from the Kashmir Jihad Liberation Group and want all our six brothers freed from the custody of your authorities in Srinagar, and also 50 crores Rupees in cash, as soon as we land in Srinagar. You just tell them right away, otherwise, we will kill each one of you…”
The terrorist calmly told the pilot, who did so on his microphone, with hands trembling with fear and sweats coming out of his head.
When the higher authorities, both in the Army and the Police in Srinagar learned about that, they were highly concerned.
All the six brothers to be demanded free were hardcore dreaded terrorists, who were caught live in an encounter and were imprisoned. To free them would be a threat to the peace in the valley.
But the lives of the passengers on the Srinagar-bound plane were also at stake. Somehow, all six of the terrorists were put in a van from the jail and brought to the airport.
The plane had landed within an hour on the runway of Srinagar. But the passengers on board felt like they were in captivity for several hours, and were growing restless, wishing for everything to end soon.
They too had learned about the seriously risky demands of the hijackers. The terrorist inside the cockpit himself came out to announce before the passengers and to assure them.
“We won’t harm any of you if your government listens to our demands.” Having said that, he went back to the cockpit.
Some of the young men, including Manish, resolved to teach the terrorists a lesson. At one point, all three of the gunmen together went to the refreshment area to drink water or juice.
Taking advantage of the situation, two of the men seated close to the main switchboard, dashed towards it. And instantly fused the lights inside the plane and tried to overpower the armed terrorists hands-on.
Out of panic, one gunman freely started firing. But putting their lives at risk, a few more ordinary young men discreetly scuffled with the terrorists in the darkness. Every other passenger had bent down screaming.
Unfortunately, the bullet shots had hit on a few of the passengers, including Rupal who was seated at the front. Rupal felt that her shoulder was hit by the gunfire.
Manish and the other able-bodied men were engaged in fighting with the hijackers in the dark.
On hearing the commotion, the terrorist in the cockpit went out to see. But he was taken aback, as he too was punched by one of the fighting men, who occasionally used their mobile torches and again switched them off.
Meanwhile, on the runway of the Srinagar airport, the commandos were well deployed to tackle the emergency-like situation. Manish ran towards the pilot to convey the situation inside.
Within minutes, the entire plane was taken in control by the commandos, who caught hold of the hijackers in no time. Half the job was done by the brave ordinary men inside the plane, who were glad that the ordeal had ended soon enough.
The ambulances were called to the airport, to take away the injured passengers to the hospital. So was Rupal, who was profusely bleeding but was also pacified by her hubby Manish.
“I’m so proud of you, my dear…” She said looking fondly at him in a stretcher.
“Relax, don’t talk, you’ll be alright soon…” Manish assured Rupal, kissing her forehead.
Thus, the hour-long hijack drama came to a smooth end.