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An Extraordinary Hostage Situation—HOSTAGES 101


With the perfect blend of thrill and excitement of a live event and without the high stakes of a real-life hostage situation, HOSTAGES 101 was indeed a fun-filled dive into various hostage situations that have occurred throughout history, germane to geopolitics, show business, deception etc. Taking place at NLH, the ‘hostage-takers’ were members of Blank 101, the public speaking club of Manipal while the ‘hostages’ were the participating students from various branches.  

Carol, the Head of Operations of Blank 101 said, “This is Blank 101’s first offline event with a crowd since the pandemic, as a result of which, most events and talks had been shifted online. Given the situation now, we are hoping for a positive response from the audience and are elated that everything is back on track and up to speed.”  

Students actively participated in the event.

While the seats filled up swiftly, the hostages didn’t have an inkling of the ransom or what was coming next for them. The first speaker laid the foundation by defining a hostage as a person who is held by one party when the two parties are in conflict with one another. They talked about how people are often held as security or collateral for the fulfilment of a set of conditions or promises and are physically harmed or blackmailed in case of failure of the conditions. The second speaker concluded with the fact that hostages aren’t mere bargaining chips but are human beings just as ourselves.  

The crowd was engaged in a discussion on the different hostage situations that have occurred throughout history, such as Japan Air Lines Flight 351 where 122 passengers were held hostage and the plane was hijacked by a group of hijackers in 1970. There were no casualties in this unconventional hostage situation, and at one point, the hijackers were tricked into believing that they were in North Korea by the South Korean officials and the Japanese government. Cinema has portrayed both reel and real-life hostage situations and their attempts to rescue hostages, such as the 1979 Iranian Revolution, where 66 American citizens (embassy officials) were taken hostage in response to the United States’ involvement in Irani politics. This particular situation occurred for nearly two years. Six officials managed to escape and were provided refuge by the Canadian Embassy, portrayed stupendously in the Ben Affleck-starrer Argo (2012).  

Being a household name can shackle you to your public life. In the case of Britney Spears and the recent removal of her conservatorship, which denied her freedom to move around and controlled every bit of her career, causing her to be a mere hostage to her job. The intrepid Neerja Bhanot, the senior flight attendant of Pan Am flight 73, helped nearly 350 passengers escape at the cost of her life, while they were being shot at by hijackers. 

The various situations helped participants understand the dark and grim side of it. The participants were expected to focus on the psychological impact and coping mechanisms undertaken by the victims. While some tried to heal and move on, others subconsciously feared for the next threat in their lives. The participants elaborated on how many of the affected detailed their experiences through journaling. A discussion was had about how numerous cases of the Stockholm Syndrome were also reported among victims. 

While the event touched upon many disturbing and sombre topics, it ended up being a fun yet informative dive into hostage situations and their consequences throughout history. 

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