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India

Wanted In 1981 Indian Airlines Plane Hijack, Gajinder Singh Located In Pakistan

Gajinder posted a photo of him in front of Gurudwara Panja Sahib in Punjab of Pakistan.

Gajinder Singh
Gajinder Singh seen standing in front of Gurudwara Panja Sahib at Hasan Abdal in the Punjab province of Pakistan. (Image: Facebook)

Chandigarh: Despite Islamabad’s repeated denial of the presence of one of India’s most wanted terrorists, Gajinder Singh, in their country for over 20 years, the Dal Khalsa co-founder’s Facebook post has made it amply clear that he was in Pakistan.

A photograph surfaced on Monday which was published on Gajinder Singh’s own Facebook page and showed him standing in front of Gurudwara Panja Sahib at Hasan Abdal in the Punjab province of Pakistan.

India has been seeking his deportation for over 20 years but Pakistan has denied his presence in their country.

Indian Airlines Flight 423 was an Indian Airlines Boeing 737 domestic passenger flight which took off from the Palam Airport in Delhi to the Raja Sansi Airport in Amritsar on September 29, 1981. The plane had 111 passengers and six members of the crew on board.

The leader of the five hijackers was Gajinder Singh. Their demand was the immediate release of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and others and a sum of five lakh dollars in cash. Bhindranwale was arrested on the charges of killing the Editor and owner of the ‘Punjabi Kesri,’ newspaper, Lala Jagat Narain at Chando Kalan in Haryana.

Gajinder negotiated with Natwar Singh, who was India’s ambassador to Pakistan then. Interestingly, Natwar Singh’s negotiation with Gajinder Singh was just a time-buying tactic adopted by the Pakistani government till the time the commandos entered the hijacked plane. Zia wanted to ensure that Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is not irked at a time when terrorism was at its peak in Punjab and not acting against the hijackers would put Pakistan in a precarious scenario similar to that of 1971, which could open a possibility of war again. Thus it was President Zia-ul-Haq who went in for a commando action against the hijackers. All the passengers were rescued. The five hijackers had to undergo a trial in Pakistan and were sentenced to life imprisonment.

Later, of the five men jailed in Pakistan, Satnam Singh entered India illegally but was arrested. However, later he was not penalised by the Indian court since he had already spent a jail term for life in Pakistan. Tejinder Singh was deported by the Canadian government to India too stood exonerated in 2019.

The remaining three hijackers, Gajinder Singh, Jasbir Singh, and Karan Singh were believed to be in either Pakistan or Canada.

In 2002 India sought Gajinder’s extradition from Pakistan saying that the Indian intelligence agencies had specific inputs about his presence there. However, Pakistan denied it. Today, Gajinder’s photo on Facebook made it clear that he was in Pakistan and that Pakistan hid the fact from India all this while.

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