On Angels Wings is the First part of a Trilogy on the life and times of Victims of the Air India AI-182 Bombings. Part-1 touches the story of the bombing, the search and rescue and life thereafter. Part-2 "The Death of Angels" is about the background of the conflict, the plot to bomb Air India, the surveillance and the Investigations that followed this mass murder and will release in 2024, Part-3 deals with how the landscape of India and Canada has changed and the victims lives and the details the victims familes lifes and how this act of terrorism has changed them.
Sanjays story is one of resilience, determination, and human triumph over tragedy. It chronicles Sanjay Lazar's incredible journey from despair to hope and respectability and national influence. It deals with deep tragedy when he was a child, and It also provides insight into the evolution of Indian aviation over the past four decades, closely mirroring his own life.
Sanjay Lazar, who lost his entire family in the Air India Kanishka bombing and was literally orphaned while still a child, escaped death on wings of angels. This is the story of his life beyond the tragedy of the worst terrorist act in aviation history until 9/11. How he overcame adversity and tragedies to become an Airline veteran, a trade union leader, a lawyer, an entrepreneur, a restauranteur, a realtor, and now an author, coach, and public speaker
He retraces his steps from his childhood, recalling the deadly terror act, a journey through Air India’s historic milestones, where his family collectively spent close to 77 years, and his own struggle to cope with death, the search for survivors and bodies of his loved ones.
The legal battles with family that ensued over property that forced him to study law whilst working, literally being adopted by his sisters godparents Ivan and Celia who raised him, and his Air India family. His sojourn that began with milestones from the 1986 strike, the sackings that followed, joining the powerful Air India union led by the Shiv Sena, the Kuwait war, the Gulf War airlifts and Amman operations, the Yemen and Libya evacuations, dealing with stranded crew in New York during 9-11 and the volcanic explosions, and the Pilots strike during SARS
He recounts how his parents were recruited by Bobby Kooka and his late father's interactions with JRD Tata, and he recalls vividly his own encounter with the great JRD Tata in New York as a young man.
The honour of becoming the best flight purser, flying VVIP flights for various Prime Ministers, Presidents, and Vice Presidents, especially Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee, flying royalty and luminaries such as His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Pramukh Swami, and many more for more than a decade His special moments flying special charters for the PM to South Africa, the VVIP Jumbo for the World Cup finals in South Africa, emergency flights of the PM from Male to Ahmedabad when Akshardham temple was overrun by terrorists, state visits to Washington, and tours of the White House and the Pentagon
He recalls his voluntary times in the BJP media cell when they were out of power, his fascination and love for Vajpayee ji, and, in later years, his involvement with the Swadeshi Jagran Manch.
The book recounts the period of his attendance in the Kanishka criminal trial in Vancouver for the Air India bombings and later appearing before retired Canadian Supreme Court Justice John Major Commission with an individual standing for himself and the AICCA and being investigated by a motivated vigilance setup in Air India.
The audiences with the great Shri Balasaheb Thackeray at Matoshri and how He and his union colleagues camped in Delhi, with the help of speaker Manohar Joshi and Shiv Sena MPs, lobbied Parliament to stall the privatisation of Air India. How he and fellow Unionists debated Air India’s privatisation with the then disinvestment minister, Arun Shourie, and Mr.Yadav to join the audacious bid made by the IPG and the AICCA to buy out Air India.
He records his interactions with numerous celebrities like Sunjay Dutt, Sachin Tendulkar, his childhood idol Sunil Gavaskar and many other celebrities, some of whom were his childhood school friends or neighbours.
He recounts numerous court battles on behalf of the union as general secretary with the government and the airline; historic cases that were controversial in the Supreme Court were both won and lost, engaging some of the biggest names in Indian legal history like K.K. Venugopal, Harish Salve Ashok Desai, Shanti Bhushan, Arun Jaitley, P.Chidambaram, and so many more.
He recollects his lowest point: being falsely accused by rivals and questioned by the CBI, and his fight for justice in the courts eventually being vindicated. His opposition to Air India’s massive aircraft orders, led him to fight against the transfer of Air India land and register CBI complaints along with MP Sanjay Raut and MLA Kiran Pawaskar.
He discloses how the Indian Airlines-Air India merger was stolen by a quirk of fate and his legal battles challenging the merger of Air India in the Company Law Board, the High Courts, filing CBI complaints and PILs against the illegal transfer of Air India lands, and raising the questionable Air India aircraft orders. How the AICCA, widely acknowledged as one of the strongest aviation trade unions, negotiated some of the best wage agreements in the industry and presented revival plans to the board and Ministry on Unshackling the Maharaja The book explores the political split in the trade union and being hounded out of Mumbai while seeking state government protection at that time.
His tryst with India’s first microbrewery and fine-tuning hospitality skills led him to dream of a community called Serenity, which was built & developed by the legendary Nyati group and the visionary Dr.Nitin Nyati a man responsible for changing Punes landscape. His brush with death on two occasions and how he survived on the wings of angels
His years assisting the Executive Director (IFS) as Coordinator and the Ravindra Gaikwad affair during the remarkable Chairmanship of Mr.Ashwani Lohani. The negotiations with the government and Hon Ministers Shri Hardeep Singh Puri and later Shri Jyotiraditya Scindia, on the protection of employee rights before privatisation of Air India were part of the ministry-appointed committee to look into HR matters, the eventual sale to the Tata Group, and his own early retirement, 4 years before superannuation, to pursue studies at Harvard, legal practice, and re-educate himself for his second innings under his mentors to pursue writing, coaching, training, HR solutions, and legal consultancy in aviation.
It is a story of triumph over tragedy, of grit and determination to succeed against all odds, blessed by his own set of angels. It is a remarkable rise from the ashes of despair of a young man to his rise to respectability and the seat of power. While telling his own story, the book tells the tale of Indian aviation over the last 40 years, which runs parallel to his own life.
The Author is a Leadership Coach, Trainer, Aviation legal consultant. A Harvard Law Professional with 37 years’ experience in Aviation and Law, Trade Union leadership and Hospitality expert. He is available at @lazar1 on Linked-In & @sjlazars on X (formerly Twitter)