Islamabad — President Zia announced here that 14 Sikh hijackers currently detained in Pakistan will be shortly tried under international Hijacking Laws. Five Sikh youth had hijacked an Indian Airlines plane in 1981 and forced it to land at Lahore Airport. The hijackers did not harm either the passengers or the plane. They had declared at the time of surrender that the purpose in hijacking the plane was to register their protest against the sacrilegious burning of Sikh Holy Scriptures by Hindu policemen in Haryana.

The second hijack came in the wake of June 1984 Army attack on the Golden Temple, Amritsar. The nine member hijacking team of Sikh youth also did not harm the passengers or the plane. Instead passengers were treated with courtesy. The motive in hijacking the Indian Airlines plane was once again to focus the attention of the people of the world upon the ruthless destruction of the Holiest of Sikh Shrines and cold blooded killing of thousands of innocent Sikh men, women and children who had come to Amritsar on pilgrimage on the occasion of Guru Arjan Dev’s martyrdom day prayers on June 3, 1984.

The Sikh young men were inspired to lodge their protest through hijacking by two Hindus who had earlier hijacked Indian Airplanes to Lahore as a protest against the arrest of Mrs. Gandhi by the then JANAIA Government. The Hindus were released by the Pakistan authorities and later rewarded by Mrs. Gandhi with seats in the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly.

Indian Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, has welcomed the announcement, and in a television interview described it as the first positive step in the direction of improving relations between India and Pakistan. However, he did express his anxiety and worry over the likely emergence of Pakistan as a nuclear power in the near future.


Article extracted from this publication >> February 1, 1985