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NEW DELHI: The Christmas Eve of 1999 doesn’t go well into the books of Indian history. The whole global community was hit with the hell of a jerk when the news of a plane hijack was set out by the Indian media channels. The flight number IC-814 of the Indian Airlines, travelling from Kathmandu to New Delhi was hijacked mid-air. At the time of the hijack, the airline was carrying 178 passengers and 11 crew members on board, after it took-off from the Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu.
This incident shattered the whole Indian Intelligence wing and questions were already raised on the credibility of R&AW agency. R&AW (Research & Analysis Wing) is the external intelligence unit of India and looks up for the foreign threat counts. But after the hijack of IC-814, every available resource was scrambled to contain the situation which was already out of hand.
Till date, there are a lot of unanswered questions as to why there was no show up of NSG commandos when the aircraft landed at Amritsar and the time was ripe enough to launch a counter-attack on the hijackers.
This is a must-read piece by @KanchanGupta — he takes you through the days the Indian passenger plane was hijacked to Kandahar in 1999. “We are, if truth be told, a nation of cowards….” https://t.co/MEjwp6YeXh
— Tufail Ahmad (@tufailelif) December 27, 2017
An article by a profound writer and columnist, Kanchan Gupta has rightly concluded in one of his articles on Kandahar hijack that India standout to be a nation of cowards. When it mattered the most, Indian people turned out in their true colours and let the nation down by surrendering in front of the hijackers.
The initial impact
During this mishappening, NDA government was in the centre and till date is held responsible for such a huge goof-up. The then Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee was in mid-air at the time of the hijack and from the time of the hijack incident, he was informed almost after two hours. The lag in the communication is blamed on the lack of satellite phones at that time.
The moment Vajpayee landed at the Palam Air Base, National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra broke the news of plane hijack.
Vajpayee was taken aback by it and called for an emergency meeting with his security advisor and cabinet ministers. He also called off his birthday and Christmas celebrations, scheduled for that evening.
Later, the five hijackers were identified as Ibrahim Athar, Shahid Akhtar Sayed, Gulshan Iqbal, Sunny Ahmed Qazi, Mistri Zahoor Ibrahim, and Shakir. All of them were found to be the residents of Pakistan and belonged to a dreaded militant organization.
Just after few moments of the takeoff of flight IC-814, militants hijacked the plane and diverted it to Lahore airport but they were denied permission to land at the airport. Then they head towards Amritsar after realizing that the flight was running low on fuel. The Amritsar’s airport, Raja Sansi Airport was immediately alerted about the hijack and directed to prevent the plane from taking off after the planes landing.
The hijackers demanded the refueling of the plane but it was blatantly rejected by the Indian officials and the aircraft stayed there for another forty-five minutes. Soon hijackers got suspicious and expected a commando attack, so they stabbed a passenger and forced the flight to take off with an almost empty tank. Then the under pressure pilots took off from there and attempted another landing at Lahore airport, even after the denial of permission from Pakistan’s airport authority. But with sheer courage and skill, both the flight pilots of IC-814 landed the plane safely at the landing strip and parked it in the airport’s bay area.
After the refueling of the aircraft by the Pakistani authority, hijackers took off from there and flew to Dubai airport. Dubai officials permitted them to land there and in return, successfully negotiated the release of 13 women and 11 children. The next morning, the plane took off for Afghanistan and landed at Kandahar Airport, at that time which was under the direct control of the terrorist organization.
Demand for ransom
On holding their fort at Kandahar airport, the hijackers demanded the release of 36 terrorists held in Indian prisons in return for safe passage for the people onboard. After hours of herculean negotiations by the security officials, Indian government stumbled upon a deal with them and finally agreed to release three terrorists in exchange for all the hostages. The name of terrorist to be freed included Maulana Masood Azhar, Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar, and Ahmed Omar Sheikh.
Within no time, the paperwork was done in order to release the terrorists and they were flown to Kandahar airport.
Moment of sigh
After that, two aircrafts left for Kandahar airport and Indian officials made the exchange. On the evening of 31st December, hostages of flight IC-814 were flown back to Delhi and a sense of relief prevailed in the Indian government and its people. But, soon the NDA government came under intense fire from various political parties.
Following this incident, India didn’t take much time to learn from this blunder and till date, it is made sure that nothing sort of that magnitude occurs ever. Although, there are still many unresolved mysteries going around in the minds of the people, but no one is up to take the responsibility for such a gaffe. Even the presence of an R&AW agent in the hijacked plane is a matter of contention. Reports suggest that R&AW officials were tipped prior to the hijack but were rashly rebuffed.
Irrespective of all the fuss, the unchallenged credit goes to the people involved in this whole incident and we salute to the bravery and courage put up by the flight pilots and the people on board.
Over the last one-and-a-half-year, people have been vocal about both mental and physical health in relationships. Even while miles away from one another, people kept checking on the health and well-being of their loved ones. However, one issue, i.e., breast cancer has been affecting women throughout the world, and it still needs much more focus and attention.
According to the World Health Organization, in 2020 itself, there were 2.3 million women diagnosed with breast cancer in the world. A report published by National Cancer Registry Programme (NCRP) estimates that breast cancer cases are likely to increase by nearly 20 per cent. Throughout the world, the tenth month of the year is recognized as the month of "Pink October" to raise awareness about breast cancer. The month should also be a celebration of encouraging the women in our lives to take the first step in this journey of staying in "Pink of Health". happen, an international dating app, conducted an in-app survey to understand how Indians discuss health issues like breast cancer with their partners. The survey gave a glimpse of whether health issues are impacting the life and relationships of singles.
41 per cent of users are not aware of examinations related to women's health
Forty-one per cent of users shared that they did not encourage the women in their life (mother, sister, friend, etc.) to go for checkups for issues related to health. Sixteen per cent of the respondents confessed that they did not remind women in their life to take examinations for their own health. It is important to note that regular self-examination is likely to detect breast lumps early. One in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. If it is detected in time, it will be cured in nine out of 10 cases.
41 per cent of users are not aware of examinations related to women's health. | Photo by Unsplash
49 per cent of users said, "Breast Cancer is not an impediment when in love"
A disease like breast cancer is likely to affect the confidence and self-esteem of women who are diagnosed with the same. With the change in the body, they might feel scared, less confident, and unloved at times. However, when questioned if breast cancer can be a deal-breaker for men, 49 per cent of them shared that it is not a problem.
When questioned if breast cancer can be a deal-breaker for men, 49 per cent of them shared that it is not a problem. | Photo by Angiola Harry on Unsplash
55 per cent believe talking about physical and mental health is no longer a stigma
The past year provided users with an opportunity to be open about their health issues--both mental and physical. Fifty-five per cent of users agreed that they are comfortable talking about such issues even when they still explore the relationship. Thus, establishing how the new generation is not shying away from breaking the taboo and stigmas around the notion of keeping one's health issues secret.
Fifty-five per cent of users agreed that they are comfortable talking about such issues even when they still explore the relationship. | Photo by Unsplash
40 per cent of users believe that a couple's everyday life can be affected by some health problems
A minimal headache can disrupt our whole routine for the day, so relationships are bound to be impacted by the health problems of our partner. Users shared that health issues can bring a little bit of tension and worry in the relationship with their partners. Health issues can be overwhelming for couples; thus, it becomes essential to voice your concerns to your partner. Sharing what you feel will provide you with clarity and make your partner your biggest support system. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Indians, women health, relationship, breast cancer, mental health, examinations
One of the world's largest oil producers, Saudi Arabia, announced Saturday it aims to reach "net zero" greenhouse gas emissions by 2060, joining more than 100 countries in a global effort to try and curb man-made climate change.
The announcement, made by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in brief scripted remarks at the start of the kingdom's first-ever Saudi Green Initiative Forum, was timed to make a splash a little more than a week before the start of the global COP26 climate conference being held in Glasgow, Scotland.
Although the kingdom will aim to reduce its emissions, Prince Mohammed said the kingdom would do so through a so-called "Carbon Circular Economy" approach. That approach focuses on still unreliable carbon capture and storage technologies over efforts to actually reduce global reliance on fossil fuels. The announcement only pertains to Saudi Arabia's efforts within its national borders and does not impact its continued aggressive investment in oil and exporting its fossil fuels to Asia and other regions.
"The transition to net zero carbon emissions will be delivered in a manner that preserves the kingdom's leading role in enhancing the security and stability of global energy markets, particularly considering the maturity and availability of technologies necessary to manage and reduce emissions," a statement by the Saudi Green Initiative forum said.
The kingdom's oil and gas exports form the backbone of its economy, despite efforts to diversify away from reliance on fossil fuels for revenue.
The global summit COP26 starting Oct. 31 will draw heads of state from across the world to try and tackle global warming and its challenges. It is being described as "the world's last best chance "to prevent global warming from reaching dangerous levels. The summit is expected to see a flurry of new commitments from governments and businesses to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases.
Leaked documents first reported by the BBC emerged Thursday showing how Saudi Arabia and other countries, including Australia, Brazil and Japan, are apparently trying to water down an upcoming U.N. science panel report on global warming. The documents are purportedly evidence of the way in which some governments' public support for climate action is undermined by their efforts behind closed doors.
Saudi Arabia has pushed back against the recommendation that fossil fuels be urgently phased out of the energy sector. Instead, the kingdom is touting, thus enabling nations to continue burning fossil fuels by sucking the resulting emissions out of the atmosphere, according to Greenpeace, which obtained the documents.
The kingdom repeatedly seeks to have the report's authors delete references to the need to phase out fossil fuels, as well as the panel's conclusion that there is a "need for urgent and accelerated mitigation actions at all scales," according to the leaked documents
Earlier this month, the United Arab Emirates - another major Gulf Arab energy producer - announced it too would join the "net zero" club of nations with a target to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
The UAE did not announce specifics on how it will reach this target but said its Ministry of Climate Change and Environment would work with the energy, economy, industry, infrastructure, transport, waste, agriculture and other sectors on the government's strategies and policies to achieve net zero by 2050.
The UAE says it is home to three of the largest solar facilities in the world and is the first country in the Middle East to deploy nuclear power. (VOA/RN)
Keywords: UAE, Oil Producer, Carbon Economy, COP26, Saudi Arabia
Apple has updated its App Store rules to allow developers to contact users directly about payments, a concession in a legal settlement with companies challenging its tightly controlled marketplace.
According to App Store rules updated Friday, developers can now contact consumers directly about alternate payment methods, bypassing Apple's commission of 15 or 30%.
They will be able to ask users for basic information, such as names and e-mail addresses, "as long as this request remains optional", said the iPhone maker.
Apple proposed the changes in August in a legal settlement with small app developers.
But the concession is unlikely to satisfy firms like "Fortnite" developer Epic Games, with which the tech giant has been grappling in a drawn-out dispute over its payments policy.
Epic launched a case aiming to break Apple's grip on the App Store, accusing the iPhone maker of operating a monopoly in its shop for digital goods or services.
In September, a judge ordered Apple to loosen control of its App Store payment options, but said Epic had failed to prove that antitrust violations had taken place.
For Epic and others, the ability to redirect users to an out-of-app payment method is not enough: it wants players to be able to pay directly without leaving the game.
Both sides have appealed.
Apple is also facing investigations from US and European authorities that accuse it of abusing its dominant position. (VOA/RN)
Keywords: Apple, App store, Epic, Games