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Masked hijackers and Taliban leaders guard IC-814 at the Kandahar airport in Afghanistan | Reuters
Masked hijackers and Taliban leaders guard IC-814 at the Kandahar airport in Afghanistan | Reuters

This is the transcript of the communication between Sharan Sharma, the pilot of IC- 814, and the air traffic controllers at Amritsar on December 24th, 1999. It is being reproduced here without any change either to the content or the language.

(1818 hrs) IC-814 to control tower. “Cfm [confirm] with Opla [Lahore]. We are in contact with Opla. Opla is not allowing us to land and we have only 40 minutes fuel. They are insisting us to go to Opla and they are not allowing us to land on Indian soil.”

(1821 hrs) IC-814. Intentions are very strong as they have to land in Opla only. Otherwise they are ready to crash anywhere. They do not want to land in India.

(1826 hrs) IC-814. We have fuel only for half an hour. Please coordinate with Opla. Please get our permission to land at Opla. They are very silly and they will kill us one by one.

(1831 hrs) IC-814. Kindly inform Opla and request Opla to let us land there in Opla because their conscience is bad, they have already selected 10 people to kill.

(1832 hrs) IC-814. There is only 15 minutes fuel left over. With this we can remain 15 minutes in air. After that we don’t have fuel. Make sure we land in Opla as they want to land in Opla and otherwise not anywhere in India.

(1845 hrs) IC-814. They want fuel tanker... They have everything. Revolvers, AK-47, grenades, everything in hand, everything open. They want refueling is immediately done.

(1848 hrs) IC-814. Go ahead. As per them [hijackers], if there will be any movement so first of all, they will kill one of us [the cockpit crew] and they will kill 10 passengers which they have already selected.

(1905 hrs) IC-814. They have only five minutes. Please send it fast. Please send it fast. They have only five minutes roger, sir. Please send within five minutes otherwise they are going to blow one of us. Please send it fast immediately, otherwise one of us will be shot down.

Amritsar Air traffic controller (ATC). Immediately, sir. As soon as they [oil tanker] will come, they will immediately be on site.

IC-814. Immediately, please send them fast. Request medium of conversation Hindi, roger, sir.

Amritsar (ATC). Affirmative sir. We have already informed Indian Oil Company. They should be coming on the way because this is not usual time of landing. Indian Oil was closed. We have alerted them. OK.

(1907 hrs) IC-814. As per them [hijackers] ‘agar kisi ne ustadi dikhane ki koshish ki, sab ko bhoon ke rakh dhenge’ (if anybody tries to act smart, we will kill all of them). They have grenades in their hands and revolvers and AK-47. Everything in their hand and we can see that. Roger.

(1911 hrs) IC-814. Only refuelling bowser should be there. Nothing else.

Amritsar ATC. Affirmative sir. Only refueling bowser will come to you, we confirm that.

IC-814. Please send it fast, send it fast, send it fast. Now guns are on our heads.” Amritsar ATC: “We are sending it very fast.

IC-814. Everybody will be shot down in another three to five minutes. Kindly please come...

(1915 hrs) IC-814. Why are you taking that much time? Guns are on our heads now.

(1921 hrs) IC-814. We have to see the bowser. Once we make 180 degree. Roger. If he does not see the bowser, he will kill us now.

(1923 hrs) IC-814. They are going to kill us any time. Please send the bowser. They have started killing now... Where is the bowser now? Please tell us.

(1924 hrs) IC-814. Guns are on our shoulders. Please send the bowser fast.

(1925 hrs) IC-814. Amrit — please send the bowser now.

Amritsar ATC. Affirmative sir, sending the bowser.

IC-814. Where is the bowser? (crying voice) Where is the bowser, yaar? He has started killing the passengers. Why don’t you understand our problem? Where is the bowser, yaar?

(1927 hrs) IC-814. He has already killed a passenger now. Why don’t you understand? Now we have stopped. Send the bowser fast. Please. Where is the bowser?

(1942 hrs) IC-814. Four passengers have been killed now. Why have not you respond. The bowser is not coming here. What is the problem?

(1944 hrs) IC-814. They have killed four persons. They are starting killing everbody already and they will kill everybody now.

(1949 hrs) IC-814. We are taking off from present position (crying background noise heard on radio transmission in tower). We are taking off. We are all dying now. No bowser. We are going to take off from here.

This article was originally published in the Herald's January 2000 issue. To read more [subscribe][8] to the Herald in print.