Indian Victims of the Pan Am Flight 73 has appealed to Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel to reconsider the decision to allow US partner with the Vibrant Gujarat summit
The Indian Victims of Pan Am 73, headquartered in Chandigarh, on Friday appealed to the Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel to reconsider the state government's decision to allow US to collaborate with the Vibrant Gujarat.
Aneesh Bhanot, in an appeal sent to the Gujarat CM, on behalf of the victims, said, "The US has been systematically and continuously discriminating against Indians. This was apparent from the Pan Am 73 (PA73) hijack case where that country discriminated against Indians and abandoned us in 2008 and is continuing to do so. When US is treating Indians like third class citizens of the world, why should India enhance business and profits of America by offering them a platform in Vibrant Gujarat?"
Following a 29 May 2014 judgement from the Punjab & Haryana High Court against discrimination from the US, the Indian Ministry of Civil Aviation investigated the case. On 5 September 2014, the Ministry sent a letter to the Ministry of External Affairs castigating US and raising some very important questions asking how Indians were abandoned.
"How can they (US) pick and choose among passengers travelling on the same flight? If the laws in US are posing any impediment in this regard, it is the duty of the US Government to amend these laws so that all those who have suffered due to such attacks on US aircrafts or ships, are eligible for compensation," the letter says.
American airline, Pan Am 73, was hijacked on 5 September 1986 at Karachi Airport by heavily armed terrorists backed by Libya. The attack was primarily against Americans. In a remarkable act of daring and courage the all-Indian cabin crew led by Neerja Bhanot, the Flight Purser, saved the lives of around 40 Americans on board by hiding their passports so that they could not be identified as US citizens by the terrorists. After 17 hours, the terrorists opened fire and threw hand grenades. In the mayhem, 21 passengers died while over 200 were injured, most of them Indians. Neerja Bhanot gave up her own life while saving hundreds of others and was subsequently conferred the Ashoka Chakra, India's highest civilian award for bravery.
According to the letter, in 2008, Libya gave US about $1.5 billion to settle all the cases of terrorism in which it had been involved and Pan Am Flight 73 was part of this settlement. However, US decided to give compensation only to the around 40 Americans on board, while it discriminated against and abandoned the Indians. Interestingly, in a similar incident of a Pan Am plane, PA103, US compensated all victims (primarily Americans and Europeans) from the same money given by Libya.
Therefore, the Indian Victims requested the Gujarat Chief Minister to tell the US in a straightforward manner that it needs to first respect Indians, resolve pending issues like Pan Am 73 before it enhances business with us, the letter says.