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DATE=12/28/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=INDIA / HOSTAGE FAMILIES (L ONLY) NUMBER=2-257554 BYLINE=JIM TEEPLE DATELINE=NEW DELHI CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: As Hijackers continue to hold 160 hostages on board an Indian Airlines plane in Kandahar, Afghanistan, the ordeal continues for the families and friends of the hostages. Most of the hostages on the Indian Airlines plane are Indian nationals and in recent days their relatives have become increasingly critical of the Indian government for not doing enough to end the crisis. VOA's Jim Teeple has more in this report from our New Delhi bureau. TEXT: // ACTUALITY OF TRAFFIC SOUND OUTSIDE PRIME MINISTER'S RESIDENCE // TEXT: The heavy traffic on New Delhi's Race Course Road slows to a crawl as it passes by the official residence of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. Many of those in the cars wave to show their support to the people gathered outside the gates, the relatives of the hostages in Kandahar. Mr. Vajpayee and other senior officials have begun meeting with hostage families to offer them words of hope and to encourage them to remain calm. On Monday, there were violent clashes as some of the relatives - frustrated by a lack of progress in the hostage crisis -- tried to force their way inside the residence to confront the officials monitoring the crisis. Now, many of the relatives seem exhausted. Neerish Kalia's sister and brother-in-law were returning from their honeymoon in Nepal. Standing outside the prime minister's residence, a tired Mr. Kalia says the government should do more to end the crisis. /// KHALIA ACTUALITY /// They have been inefficient and very slow. This is such a big event - it should be taken very seriously and they should have acted faster. They have already taken five days and five days is a very long time to handle such a situation. /// END ACTUALITY /// (OPT) Indian government officials insist they are doing all they can. Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh says the team of negotiators India sent to Kandahar to meet with the hijackers would have left a day earlier, but there were delays in getting permission to land in Afghanistan. The Indian government has also appointed a high-level official to brief the relatives of the hostages on a regular basis. (END OPT) The hijackers are demanding the release of Maulana Masood Azhar, a Pakistani-born cleric, and several militant separatists from Kashmir. All are jailed in India on terrorism charges. Some of the relatives have called for the release of the prisoners - reminding government officials that a previous Indian government did just that when Kashmiri separatists kidnapped the daughter of a cabinet minister nearly ten years ago. Prime Minister Vajpayee says he will never bow to terrorism - a stance supported by one of the relatives, S-K Sharma, who has a cousin on board the hijacked plane. Mr. Sharma says he is angry at the government, but his anger stems from the fact the plane was hijacked in the first place. He says more precautions need to be taken to prevent such incidents. /// SHARMA ACTUALITY /// It is better that they should have tight security efforts. They have so many agencies, there is no coodination -- nobody works - there is no accountability on the part of the big officers. What can we do? /// END ACTUALITY /// Indian officials are also being criticized for allowing the plane to leave Indian territory. Shortly after the plane was hijacked, it landed in the northern Indian city of Amritsar, where it stayed for about forty minutes before taking off again. Officials in New Delhi say it appears no one in Amritsar had the necessary authority to take action to block the plane from leaving. They have promised an investigation into what happened. (Signed) NEB/JLT/KL 28-Dec-1999 08:05 AM EDT (28-Dec-1999 1305 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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