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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Rupen Katyal

The shadow of terror


RAVINDER BAWA | Issue Dated: October 16, 2011, New Delhi
Tags : electronic shops | laptop | internet connection blinking | cacophony | sadar bazar | gurgaon | chandra mohan katyal | afghanistan | kandahar |

Three different phones ringing, customers streaming in and out of the electronic shop, laptop in front, internet connection blinking, emails to be replied to – it is in this cacophony of Sadar Bazar in Gurgaon that Chandra Mohan Katyal finds his peace.

And peace he needs aplenty. On December 24, 1999, his son Rupen Katyal was on the ill fated Air India 814 flight which was kidnapped by hijackers who ultimately took the plane to Kandahar in Afghanistan.

Much before that, irked by the delay in refuelling, hijackers murdered his son brutally. Rupen was returning to Delhi with his wife Rachna from his honeymoon in Kathmandu.

Katyal drowns himself in work. "I work with the same zeal as my son would have if he was alive. I don’t need to work but working in this shop gives me strength to carry on,'' he says.

His wife has found peace in spirituality. "We have been each other’s support in this crisis but for her spirituality is the way to deal with pain. We do not talk about Rupen and he lives in our hearts as a memory,'' he says.

Support for the Katyals also comes from their customers who empathise with the loss of his son. The formula which keeps him going are three Ds - desire, dedication and determination. Not unnaturally, he feels the government lacks them.

"No incident of terrorism would have recurred in India if the government had taken IC 814 seriously. The evil must be nipped in the bud, or else you keep seeing its consequences.''

Rupen's widow, Rachna, is now like a daughter. An assistant manager in Air India, she has remarried. But the bonds are strong. "They are my parents and I visit them every weekend with Suhani, my nine-year-old-daughter. They are our family now.''

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017