Jalandhar, Punjab: The candidature of a former hijacker Bhola Pandey from Salempur constituency of UP by Congress for the fourth time in a row has given handle to Sikh group Dal Khalsa to draw comparison between the treatment meted out to him and Dal Khalsa leader Gajinder Singh, who hijacked an Indian Airline plane and who is on India’s most wanted list. Recently a compilation of Gajinder Singh’s poems was released in Amritsar by Dal Khalsa.
“The diametrically opposite approach adapted by the government and Congress in both the cases reveals double standards and discriminative approach which further resulted in deepening the alienation of struggling peoples from the Indian mainstream,” said Dal Khalsa spokesperson Kanwarpal Singh.
“Congress rewarded Pandey for hijacking the Indian plane to seek the release of late Indira Gandhi during Janta regime and the case against him was also dropped but our leader Gajinder Singh has been declared a “hardcore terrorist” for hijacking the Indian plane to seek the release of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale in 1981,” he said.
Bhola Pandey and his friend Devandar Nath Pandey hijacked IA flight no IC 410 on 20 Dec 1978 and were released shortly. Since then Pandey was being awarded with Congress tickets first for assembly and then for Lok Sabha. Around three years later Gajinder Singh along with four Dal Khalsa activists hijacked IA flight from Delhi to Srinagar on 29 September 1981 and landed in Lahore where they were caught in commando action by Pakistani forces.
But since 1978 Pandey is enjoying the state’s privilege while Gajinder Singh served 14 years detention and is living in exile facing hardships since his release in November 1994.
He said both the cases had striking similarities as in both the cases hijackers did not posses weapons, they did not harm any passengers and the hijacking act was to register the protest and seek the release of their respective leaders. “The only difference was that Pandey did it for the sake of Congress leader where as Gajinder Singh did for Sikh leader. Pandey was loyal to Gandhi family while Gajinder Singh’s loyalty was towards Sikhs and Bhindranwale. And this difference turned out to be a big difference,” he said.
“Pandey was perceived and projected as “hero” and on the other hand Gajinder Singh was declared most wanted “terrorist” by successive Indian governments. Even today his name figures in the list of most wanted persons. “”This is the classic example that proves beyond doubt that India is not a secular country, “” claimed the Dal Khalsa leader. This discriminative approach of Congress leadership also proved that the country is not governed as per rule of law but by law of rulers.
Congress government was still seeking his extradition despite the fact that he had served 14 years behind the bars for hijacking while Pandey was being allotted ticket in every election.