Air India Express Crash: One year passed, but pain and sorrow still persists...

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By Dr. Eugene DSouza, Moodubelle
Bellevision Media Network

Mangalore, 22 May 2011: It was exactly a year ago in the early morning on this day (May 22, 2010) a terrible air tragedy at the Bajpe Airport snapped the lives of 158 passengers and crew of Air India Express Flight No.812 whose flight had originated in Dubai and was to be terminated at Mangalore with 166 people on board looking forward to meet their near and dear ones. But destiny willed otherwise, as human error led to one of India’s worst air disasters that while causing the death of 158 left hundreds of family members and relatives to grieve and spend sleepless nights and harrowing days to identify the bodies of the victims, arrange for their funerals and later run from pillar to post to claim the compensation. Though one year passed since the crash, the sense of loss of their loved ones is still fresh in their mind and the pain and sorrow still persists.




Though eight out of 166 passengers survived the ghastly air disaster with varied injuries and were eventually back on their feet, many of them find themselves in a state of facing a bleak future as their physical and mental conditions have prevented them from pursuing their career. Twenty-five years old Joel Pratap D’Souza of Vamanjoor had suffered a slipped disc in the crash and he can no longer carry on the type of hard work that he was used to do earlier. He has lost his job and under his present physical condition  he is afraid that he would not be considered in the job market. He is terribly depressed as he neither has a job nor has received any compensation.


Pradeep G Kotian who had been working as a maintenance technician at Dubai has not only lost his earlier job but his visa has also expired. He has been upset  over the fact that in spite of Air India promising jobs to the survivors has completely forgotten its assurance. Presently he has joined his friend’s hardware business.  Thirty-six years old Abdulla Puttur is desperately looking for a job. In January, he flew to Dubai on a visit visa, but returned when he could not get a job. “About two weeks ago, officials from Air India called and promised to get me a job,” he said. But, he is nevertheless planning another trip to Dubai in search of a job.



Krishnan Kooli Kunnu, 48, of Uduma Mangad, Kasargod in Kerala, used to work in a private company in Dubai, but is now sitting at home without a job. However, he has not given up hope and  would try to get a job in Dubai. Mayan Kutty K P, 48, of Kannur in Kerala had worked in Saudi Arabia for 15 years and in Dubai for six years. He returned to Dubai six months after the crash. However, after working for three months he could not concentrate on work and decided to return. He has not yet cancelled his visa and hopes  to go back to Dubai.


Twenty-seven years old Ummer Farooq Ullal who was travelling to Mangalore for a change of visa. Feels totally disturbed when he think of the crash. He had to undergo plastic surgery. He feels that he has lost his personality and he is yet to recover completely from the trauma of the crash. On May 22, Farooq plans to invite families of crash victims to his house. He will hold a special prayer in a mosque and then in his house in memory of all the victims.





Though the Air India Express 812 crash anniversary is being commemorated,  the compensation issue for relatives of victims remains unresolved. Families of victims have taken the case of compensation to the International Court of Justice in The Hague for getting the ‘right compensation’ from Air India on the lines of the Montreal convention. A Swedish advocate at the International Court of Justice Stephen Ericson, an authority on air crash compensation, is counsel of those seeking compensation. The first hearing of the case will take place in June first week.


Air India’s compensation, arbitrated by Mulla and Mulla Company of Mumbai, did not come to more than `50 lakh while international norms recommended close to `1 crore. The final compensation has to be paid in accordance with the Montreal Convention, to which India is a signatory. “Every person who dies in an air crash on an international flight is entitled to get a final compensation of $176,000 in the currency of the country where the aircraft crashed at the prevailing exchange rate at the time of the disbursement of the compensation,” said Mohammad Beary, president of the IX 812 crash victims’ family association.  “Most families of the victims reside in northern Kerala, mainly Kasargod and Kannur. They have cases going on fast track courts of that state,” vice-president of the association Narayanan said.



The  findings of the Court of Inquiry headed by Air Marshal Neelkanth Gokhale  has established that Air India’s expat pilot Glusica Zlatko was solely responsible for the crash. The court of inquiry also quoted the cockpit voice recorder (CVR), to show that Capt Zlatko had not heeded the suggestion of his deputy, Capt Ahluwalia, to go around, not once, but twice. Ahluwalia feared that the runway would fall short. Under these circumstances   Air India cannot escape from coughing up legal compensation as per the Montreal convention.


Sources in Mulla and Mulla differed with the association on compensation. “The Montreal convention is fine, but it has to be read along with the ‘Carriage by Air Act,’ which states that compensation is payable on the basis of the international money value and standard of living of the particular country where the aircraft mishap took place. This means insurance companies are liable to pay,” sources said.



According to the sources, so far 65 families have been compensated in accordance with the Montreal convention whereas five families have got partial compensation. There is the case of an engineer who died in the crash with a  monthly earning of `5 lakh and he left behind a young wife and two children. In his case, the compensation crossed `1 crore. There are families that got  50 lakh to 60 lakh also.


For many families of the victims of the air crash, the wait, struggle and uncertainty of the compensation are bound to linger the pain and sorrow of losing their loved ones under the most tragic circumstances for still more years to come. While it is impossible to compensate the loss of a dear member of the victim’s family, the concerned authorities at least can lessen the burden of these families  by bringing about a closure to the tragic episode by quickly dispensing the monetary compensation  as prescribed by the international law.



Comments on this Article
mahesh muddapur, mumbai Mon, May-23-2011, 10:43
May god bless their souls and wish that such a fatal accident should not take place ever.
Victor D almeida, Moodubelle/Bahrain Sun, May-22-2011, 1:31
I really feel the pain of the family members whose lost their dear ones. No amount of money will ever bring the loved ones back The only option is to go ahead with our lives and keep them in our memory My Heartfelt Condolences to all families who lost their dear loved once.
Simon Francis Lasrado, Sullia/Bangalore Sun, May-22-2011, 4:35

ಕಳೆದ ವರ್ಶ ಮೇ ತಿ೦ಗಳ 22 ರ೦ದು ಬೆಳಿಗ್ಗೆ ಮ೦ಗಳೂರಿನ ಕೆ೦ಜಾರು ಬಳಿ ಸ೦ಭವಿಸಿದ ವಿಮಾನ ಅಫಘಾತದಲ್ಲಿ ಸತ್ತವರ ಆತ್ಮಕ್ಕೆ ಭಗವ೦ತ ಶಾ೦ತಿ ಕೋರಲಿ ಮತ್ತು ಅವರ ಅನೇಕ ಸ೦ಭ೦ದಿಕರಿಗೆ ಈ ನೋವನ್ನು ಸಹಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲು ಅವರಿಗೆ ದೆಯ್ರ್ಯ ಮತ್ತು ಸಮಾದಾನ ಕೊಡಲಿ ಎ೦ದು ನಾವು ದೇವರಲ್ಲಿ ನಾವು ಪ್ರಾರ್ಥಿಸೋಣ.ಈ ಅವಘಡದ ವಾರ್ಶಿಕೋತ್ಸವ ಸ೦ದರ್ಭದಲ್ಲಿ ಸತ್ತವರ ಆತ್ಮಕ್ಕೆ ಶಾ೦ತಿ ಕೋರಿ ಮತ್ತು ನೊ೦ದವರ ಮನಸ್ಸುಗಳಿಗೆ ಸಾ೦ತ್ವಾನ ಹೇಳಿ ಅವರ ದುಖಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ನಾವೂ ಭಾಗಿಯಾಗೋಣ.

Ronald Sabi, Moodubelle Sun, May-22-2011, 12:40
Tearful¦.even after one year due to magnitude of the tragedy!!
Joy lobo, moodubellelmangalore Sat, May-21-2011, 11:49
May God grant them eternal rest...
Philip Mudartha, Qatar Sat, May-21-2011, 3:20
On this night a year ago, only an hour before he left home to take the ill-fated flight, a 16-yr old sent a Farm-ville gift to me. I woke up to watch the horrific scenes on TV and to find him among the list of passengers. For months, I kept visiting his Facebook profile and his Farm to wonder that life will not be same again. Closure is more important for human beings, for close relatives, friends and even general public. It is more than money; some victims have left behind property and cash worth crores without clear legal heirs. Reports of court battles among claimants are not known, but, the inability to establish title as legal heir may be one of the reasons for delays in settling compensations.
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