New Delhi: Akshay Kumar's upcoming movie ‘Airlift' – based on World's biggest air evacuation carried out by Air India is attracting everyone's attention for its storyline.
Also, the character ‘Ranjit Katyal' which is being played by Akshay Kumar in the movie is highly speculated. Everyone is keen to know about the man who carried such a massive operation but never came to limelight.
Here we tell you all about the mysterious man who saved 1, 70,000 Indians during Iraq-Kuwait war, as narrated in the movie Airlift.
To all your surprise, Ranjit Katyal is a fictional character and not a person in real life.
Yes, there was not one person behind this massive evacuation. The real evacuation(airlift) was carried out between Amman, capital of Jordan and Delhi. It was all possible because of heroics of our Ministry of External Affairs.
The MEA officials posted in Kuwait that time, the journalists and the people of Air India deny any Ranjit Katiyal during the whole operation.
As per Ministry of External Affairs, Indian Embassy was behind this operation.Below are the accounts of four persons related with the evacuation that strengthen the postulation:
KP Fabian who was the then head of Gulf Division in Ministry of External Affairs deny presence of any such person during the operation. He says that India had good relations with Saddam Hussein and nobody else was needed. IP Khosla was additional secretary who accompanied Inder Kumar Gujral, the then minister of external affairs, to Kuwait, too endorses KP Fabian.
Air India had flown nearly 500 flights from Amman to Delhi between 13th Aug 1990 and 11th Oct 1990. Jitender Bhargava, former executive director of Air India, also has similar views. He says that he had a word with the then AI regional director of the gulf and the middle east region Michael Mascarenhas, who also had denied knowing anyone named Ranjit Katiyal.
Javed Ahmed, a journalist, lives in Kuwait for 35 years. He had witnessed the gulf war closely and interacted with many Indians there who were clueless about any such person among them. Upon watching the trailer of the film, he claimed that the film has nothing to do with the reality. He says the film talks about Dasman Palace, where actually no one lived that time as rich Kuwaitis had fled. Javed claims he was present there at that time.
AK Shrivastava was engineer in one oil project in Iraq. Living in Gurgaon now, he recounts that he had little problem in Baghdad during those 2 months. He says that he didn't face much trouble as Jordan borders were open and it helped people in reaching Amman without much ado. In an interview to Indian Foreign Affairs journal, he says that after the news of Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, minster of external affairs Inder Kumar Gujral, IP Khosla and Shrivastava himself had visited Saddam Hussein. Gujral's visit included a famous embrace by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, which earned him a lot of flak from the media. Iraq agreed to tacitly permit the Indian evacuation efforts, but there was no Ranjit Katiyal.
However, Akshay Kumar, in his recent interview, said that Ranjit Katyal is not a fictional character and does exists in real life. Though, they have changed his name in the movie. Here's what he said:
“That's true but I cannot talk about him. He's still alive and a big businessman today, living in Kuwait. But I didn't meet him. Raja Menon met him and spoke to him over the phone. But my character isn't completely based on one person. There were three or four people like him, who were involved in the operation. We've combined all their stories for the character but Ranjit Katyal was the main guy. We've changed his name in the film. I should bring to your notice that in 1990, he was a multimillionaire but he lost everything, got everybody back to India from Kuwait and today, he's a multimillionaire again. He's earned back all his money.”
The post first appeared on Quora.