India may soon seek compensation from the United States for 12 of its nationals killed during the hijacking of Pan Am 73 in Pakistan more than 27 years ago, local media reported Wednesday.
The 12 Indians were on board the American flight when terrorists belonging to Abu Nidal Organization (ANO) hijacked it in Karachi way back in 1986. The attack was carried out with cover from Libyan authorities and Tripoli in 2008 had paid a compensation of 1.5 billion US dollars to the United States.
However, even though the funds were not from US taxpayers, Washington decided to compensate only the American passengers and abandoned the Indians and those of other nationalities.
The families of the Indian victims have approached the government urging New Delhi to take up the issue with US Secretary of State John Kerry, if not President Barack Obama, saying the Indian crew on board the flight saved the lives of Americans, and yet Washington chose to "discriminate" against the Indians, The Times of India reported.
Earlier this month, the United States had released a list of names who could claim compensation but this did not include any Indian.
"The all-Indian cabin crew saved the lives of 41 Americans on board by hiding their passports from the hijackers at the risk of their own lives. They did this fully knowing that the terrorists would immediately kill them as they were primarily looking for American targets," an unnamed source was quoted by the newspaper as saying.
The aircraft, with 360 passengers on board, was hijacked on Sept. 5, 1986 at Karachi airport by four armed men of the ANO, after it arrived from Sahar International Airport in Mumbai and was preparing to depart Jinnah International Airport in Karachi for Frankfurt Airport en route to New York.
The motivation for the hijacking was to attack the Israeli Defense Ministry, using the aircraft as a missile. But, it ended after 17 hours, with the terrorists hurling grenades and firing from their assault guns at the passengers.
Some 20 passengers were killed during the hijacking, of which 12 were from India and the rest from the United States, Pakistan and Mexico. All the hijackers were arrested and sentenced to death in Pakistan. However, the sentences were later commuted to life in prison.