Come 22ndJanuary of next year, Akshay Kumar’s fans will treat their eyes with his latest project, Airlift. Directed by Raja Menon, Airlift is a story of Ranjit Katyal (played by AK) a wealthy and powerful Indian businessman in Kuwait, who, with the help of Indian government, safely evacuated 170,000 Indians back to their country in the wake of the First Gulf War in 1990. What many don’t know is that this is not just another Bollywood script written to entertain the audiences; this is a true story of heroism, bravery and the undying spirit of one man who rose against all odds to help his country mates. Read on to find out what really happened.
What caused the invasion?
Iraq in 1990, then under the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, was in a huge debt to US because of its long-drawn conflict with Iran, which it had undertaken. Saddam Hussein wanted Kuwait to slow down its production of oil, ultimately causing in inflation in the market prices of oil which would have helped Iraq in raising money. Kuwait refused to comply with Hussein’s demands, this infuriated him. On August 2nd 1990, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait (part of first Gulf War).
What were its consequences?
Within few hours of its invasion, Iraqi army took over the city. They looted and plundered the city unleashing great tragedies over the general population.
Where does Ranjit Katyal fits in?
Kuwait was home to some 170,000 Indians at that time. The sudden invasion left all of them homeless and bankrupt. Ranjit Katyal was one of the most influential businessman in Kuwait and apart from being immensely wealthy he was also very resourceful. It was his contacts with the higher-ups in the government which the Indian government exploited. Acting as a deep asset he made the evacuation possible. At a time when Saddam Hussein absolutely refused to adhere to any advice from the Western world, he agreed for the evacuation of Indians in a phased manner. Although it was never made official, it was Ranjit Katyal who was instrumental in arranging a meet between India’s, then external affairs minister I.K.Gujral and Saddam Hussein, which cleared the ground for the evacuation operations to start.
The Evacuation Process.
Over a period of 59 days, using 488 flights, over 170,000 Indians were airlifted successfully from Kuwait. After this operation was successful Air India got into the Guinness Book of World Records for undertaking the most successful evacuation process ever by a civil airline.