Former Hostage IDs Hijackers

Actress Sharon Stone poses for photographers during a photo call in Berlin, Germany on Wednesday, March 22, 2006. Stone was promoting her new movie "Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction."
AP Photo/Markus Schreiber
A physician who treated fellow passengers aboard a hijacked Indian Airlines plane said Monday that she recognized the faces of the hijackers in photographs distributed by the Indian government.

Bombay pathologist Anita Joshi was one of the few hostages to see the hijackers without their masks.

"They are the same people" who appeared in photographs published by India last week, Joshi said. The identities of the five hijackers and their home addresses in Pakistan also were published.

India has blamed Pakistan for the hijacking and called for the hijackers' arrest. Pakistan has denied the accusations and said the hijackers are in Indian-held Kashmir.

One passenger was stabbed to death and a second man was wounded on the first day of the eight-day hijacking drama, which ended New Year's Eve after India released three imprisoned activists for Kashmir's independence. The hijackers escaped.

In her first public appearance since the hijacking, Joshi said the hijackers, who spoke in Hindi and Pashto, said they had planned the operation for two years.

"They said they saw Hollywood movies and read books on hijacking. They were perfectly trained and seemed to understand human psychology very well," Joshi said.

The physician said the hijackers told her they were happy to see foreigners on the plane when they boarded it Christmas Eve in Katmandu, Nepal, on a flight to New Delhi.

"They said, 'If one of you (Indians) die, nothing will happen, but if one of the foreigners dies ... other governments will put pressure on your government,"' she quoted the hijackers as saying.

The strain finally got to her four days into the hijacking, Joshi said, and she broke down. "I started yelling and told them to shoot me since, anyway, all of us were mentally prepared to die."

"It was like slow poison when every hour they'd shout and tell us to put our heads down or they would kill us," Joshi said.

She said the hijackers had asked her to treat the two passengers whom they had stabbed when the plane landed at Amritsar airport, the first of several stops before it was taken to a desert airstrip at Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Rippan Katyal, returning with his bride from his honeymoon, died of his wounds.

The hijackers "said there was a problem with refueling and so they had to do this. They asked me, `He won't die, will he?' I told them he needed to be hospitalized immediately. But when I bandaged him the second time I knew Rippan was in the last stages," she said.

Katyal's body was taken off the plane in Dubai, along with 27 passengers. His wife, who had been separated in another compartment, was not told what had happened to him.

"I couldn't tell her that her husband was dead," Joshi said. News spread that the hijackers had cut the throats of two people. "But when the others asked me if the two were alive, I always said yes."