Cover Story: Ic 814
Unholier Than Thou
Both the Congress and the BJP have had links with hijackers
COMMENTS PRINT
Cover Story: Ic 814
Theology is a veil for ISI activities in eastern Uttar Pradesh
Pothik Ghosh
Cover Story
The released hostages swing between sympathy for their captors and extreme fear
Soma Wadhwa
Cover Story: Ic 814
Four India watchers in the US spoke to Outlook about the implications of the Kandahar episode Excerpts:
Ramananda Sengupta
Cover Story: Ic 814
The nation is talking accountability yet again. Considering that the hijack drama is over, there is little else one can do. Questions which are persistently being raised are: Would people in responsible positions be held accountable?
Ranjit Bhushan
Cover Story
Hijack victims paint the RSS leaders as emotionless men who remained criminally indifferent during the crisis
Soma Wadhwa
Cover Story: Ic 814
The RSS’ insensitive rhetoric about Hindu cowardice evokes all-round condemnation
Rajesh Joshi
All talk of a 'soft state' is a pathetic bid to absolve leaders and transfer guilt to the nation at large.
K.P.S. Gill
Cover Story: Ic 814
The ISI finds it easy to push men, money and arms into Bihar through the Indo-Nepal border
Kumar Badal
Cover Story: Ic 814
The hijack deal is a body-blow to troop morale...and it may prove to be deadlier still
Nitin A. Gokhale
Cover Story: Ic 814
In the aftermath of the hijack, bilateral trade-and SAPTA-will take a beating
Shantanu Guha Ray
Cover Story: Ic 814
Jaswant Singh’s Kandahar trip has raked up controversy all around
Janaki Bahadur Kremmer
Cover Story: IC-814
The recent hijacking could be just setting the tone for the new century
Ranjit Bhushan, Ajith Pillai, Zafar Meraj, Rahimullah Yusufzai, M.S. Shanker, Mumbai

Contrary to what political parties might now proclaim, their record is not blemishless when it comes to hijackings. The Congress and the BJP have been guilty in the past of providing patronage to hijackers. While the Congress rewarded two hijackers with assembly tickets in Uttar Pradesh, Atal Behari Vajpayee was sympathetic to the hijacker who demanded the construction of a Ram temple at Ayodhya.

On January 23, 1993, Satish Chandra Pandey, a staunch Ram bhakt and BJP supporter from Sultanpur, hijacked a Delhi-bound Indian Airlines (IA) plane from Lucknow, holding 48 passengers hostage. He was protesting against the then prime minister P.V. Narasimha Rao’s assurance-soon after the demolition of the Babri Masjid-that "it will be reconstructed". "I flew into a rage," Satish said then. "I wanted to attract the attention of the government." Soon after hijacking the aircraft, Pandey got in touch with Vajpayee. He surrendered before Vajpayee.

Satish was imprisoned for four years and released on bail on the condition that he would present himself at Lucknow’s Sarojini Nagar police station each month the following year. The Lucknow police did not keep track of him after that. But Vajpayee did, according to The Sydney Morning Herald’s Christopher Kremmer. On June 27, 1996, Vajpayee wrote a letter to him on his official letterhead condoling Satish’s father’s death. "I share your grief. I pray to the Lord for your father’s soul and (to) give the family members the strengh to bear this," he wrote.

Bholanath Pandey, on his part, resents being called a hijacker. "It was purely a political protest for a great Indian leader (Indira Gandhi) who was sent to jail unfairly," he says of his December 20, 1978, adventure when he and Devendra Pandey, another diehard Indira loyalist, commandeered an IA flight as it flew over Aligarh. "We had no weapons and as we entered the cabin we announced our intention to the passengers," says Bholanath, who unsuccessfully contested the 1999 Lok Sabha elections from Salempur. The 132 passengers were held hostage for some hours before the two called it quits in the presence of the media. Soon after, both men became active Congressmen. Bholanath and Devendra were elected to the Vidhan Sabha in 1980. Bhola served as a Congress mla from 1980 to 1985 while Devendra remained a member of the house for two terms. Devendra, upcc general secretary till recently, is now nurturing Sultanpur constituency in the hope of a Congress ticket in the next elections. Even though the Congress has condemned the recent hijacking, it can’t gloss over the fact that it has been patronising hijackers.

COMMENTS PRINT
Cover Story: Ic 814
Theology is a veil for ISI activities in eastern Uttar Pradesh
Pothik Ghosh
Cover Story
The released hostages swing between sympathy for their captors and extreme fear
Soma Wadhwa
Cover Story: Ic 814
Four India watchers in the US spoke to Outlook about the implications of the Kandahar episode Excerpts:
Ramananda Sengupta
Cover Story: Ic 814
The nation is talking accountability yet again. Considering that the hijack drama is over, there is little else one can do. Questions which are persistently being raised are: Would people in responsible positions be held accountable?
Ranjit Bhushan
Cover Story
Hijack victims paint the RSS leaders as emotionless men who remained criminally indifferent during the crisis
Soma Wadhwa
Cover Story: Ic 814
The RSS’ insensitive rhetoric about Hindu cowardice evokes all-round condemnation
Rajesh Joshi
All talk of a 'soft state' is a pathetic bid to absolve leaders and transfer guilt to the nation at large.
K.P.S. Gill
Cover Story: Ic 814
The ISI finds it easy to push men, money and arms into Bihar through the Indo-Nepal border
Kumar Badal
Cover Story: Ic 814
The hijack deal is a body-blow to troop morale...and it may prove to be deadlier still
Nitin A. Gokhale
Cover Story: Ic 814
In the aftermath of the hijack, bilateral trade-and SAPTA-will take a beating
Shantanu Guha Ray
Cover Story: Ic 814
Jaswant Singh’s Kandahar trip has raked up controversy all around
Janaki Bahadur Kremmer
Cover Story: IC-814
The recent hijacking could be just setting the tone for the new century
Ranjit Bhushan, Ajith Pillai, Zafar Meraj, Rahimullah Yusufzai, M.S. Shanker, Mumbai

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