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December 31, 1999
'For four days I was forced to sit in the cockpit, blindfolded, without seeing sunlight'
Josy Joseph in New Delhi
It was a birthday sans cake and candles, sans any celebration -- what do you celebrate when you aren't sure of seeing the sunlight ever again?
But even in captivity, Pooja Kataria received a gift on December 27. A shawl on which was written, 'To our dear sister Pooja, with lots of love and wishes.'
"When he came to know it was my birthday, the hijacker called Burger took his shawl off, wrote on it and gave it to me," Pooja, who with husband Rakesh had been incarcerated on Flight 814, told rediff.com. "They were not all that cruel people."
Thirteen-year-old Arun too has something to say about the hijackers' 'soft' side. "(One or two of) the militants used to sleep near us," the boy, looking stressed and wan, said. "One of them sang Hindi songs... Another told me he liked English movies."
"For the first four days they blindfolded us and told us to keep our heads bowed. They were trying to scare us... But later on they were relaxed and seem to understand our needs."
"I am happy that I am alive to tell this tale today," Vipin said.
Whereas these passengers seemed to exhibit signs of the Stockholm syndrome, the co-pilot of the Airbus, Captain Rajendra, like some others whose comments rediff.com has already posted, presented a very different view of his abductors.
"For four days I was forced to sit in the cockpit, blindfolded, without seeing sunlight," he said, adding, "They beat up some passengers."
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