Washington: Literally running from pillar to post in both India and the US for the past several years, Indian and Indian-American relatives of victims of the 1986 terror attack on Pan Am Flight 73 are now pinning their last hope on President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to resolve the issue of compensation.
The Indian and Indian-American victims of the terrorist attack, in which 20 passengers including two American and 13 Indians died, and over 120 injured, have sought an appointment with Obama when he travels to New Delhi later this month to attend the Republic Day Parade as its Chief Guest.
The US, who the Indian and Indian-American victims allege that they are being discriminated when it comes to paying them compensation, has pleaded its inability to do so arguing that it is bound by rule of the land and international strictures in matter of compensation for victims who were not American national at the time of the attack.
But in a fresh move, it says it is willing to work with the Indian Government to address their grievances on the matter of compensation.
“There is a history on this that can be looked at and then we (India and the US) can have discussions and consultations on what the options are for moving forward and what the legal requirements are on both sides. This is something that we would be prepared to sit down and discuss,” Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Nisha Desai Biswal told PTI.
In the past several weeks, the Indian and Indian-American victims of the Pan Am 73 flight have renewed their efforts in both Washington and New Delhi pushing the two governments to get them the compensation due to them and thus bring to an end what they allege as the discrimination of the US Government.
“We are a group of victims of Pan Am 73, an American flagship carrier, which was hijacked at Karachi airport. We have been discriminated against and abandoned by USA pursuant to the US-Libya Agreement of 2008. We would like to meet President Obama when he visits India in January to present our case,” Aneesh Bhanot, representing Indian victims of the flight, said in a recent email to the US Embassy in New Delhi.
Bhanot is brother of Neerja Bhanot who died in the Pan Am 73 hijack. The jet, with 360 passengers on board, was hijacked by four Palestinian militants on September 5, 1986, while on the ground at Karachi, Pakistan.
“We are hoping that this matter is raised during Obama’s trip to India,” Prabhat Krishnaswamy, representing the Indian-American families from Pan Am Flight 73, said.
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