One doesn’t often see hijackers being rewarded with Political Party tickets but then, if you are living in India, it shouldn’t come as a surprise. One of the finest or let’s say, one of the funniest and yet self- righteous hijackers in India served as our representatives.
On December 20, 1978, Bhola Nath Pandey along with his friend, Devendra Nath Pandey hijacked Indian Airlines flight IC-410 and demanded the release of Indira Gandhi who was imprisoned at that time and also that all criminal cases against her and Sanjay Gandhi to be withdrawn with immediate effect.
Ironically, they were awarded party tickets for this act by the Congress in 1980 such that Devendra Nath Pandey rose to become a minister in the government of the most populous state of India, Uttar Pradesh.
They had attempted to hijack it with toy guns.
It was quite disgusting to see leading members of the Congress Party including Mr.R.Venkataraman, who later became the President of India tried to dismiss the hijacking incident as nothing more than a joke.
Veteran Congress Leader, Mr.Venkataraman had commented,
“There are always extreme elements in every party and extreme elements cannot be shown or brought up as an argument for condemning the party as a whole.”
This argument sounds quite hollow even today because the Congress Party had rewarded the extreme elements with party tickets to contest.
High and dangerous emotions were running in the Congress Party back then with their slogan being “if Indiraji goes to jail, rivers of blood will flow”.
The Congress had just one agenda on their mind– “release the queen bee or the honey bees will die.”
Same crime but different consequences
Congress had rewarded Pandey for hijacking the Indian plane to seek the release of Indira Gandhi during the Janata Dal regime and the case against him was also dropped but Gajinder Singh was declared a terrorist for hijacking the IA aircraft in 1981, for the release of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale and was given a 14 year jail term.
Was it hijacking or skyjacking? It was simply “a prank by misguided young men” because they had deployed on toy guns to hijack a plane. It seems quite funny to read this but such immaturity and radical nationalism must be abhorred and not celebrated and rewarded.
The first Gandhian Hijack.
Image Credits: Google Images