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Gurbaksh Singh Hijacker to Seek Reinstatement by S.G.P.C.


The Tribune, Bhatinda, Nov. 14, 2005

Photo: Gurbaksh Singh Hijacker

Known for hijacking a plane without any weapon in 1982, Gurbaksh Singh (70) yesterday announced his plan to peddle his way to Amritsar to seek his reinstatement by the S.G.P.C., which threw him out of his job seven years back.

Narrating his tale to media persons here, Gurbaksh Singh said he used to look after gurdwaras in Bangladesh in the 1980s when he came to know that the Indian government had asked Sikhs not to carry kirpans [ceremonial mini-swords] in planes, fearing hijack.

Flaying the government move, then S.G.P.C. President Gurcharan Singh Tohra had stated that a plane could even be hijacked with a toy. In a bid to prove Tohra's point, Gurbaksh Singh hijacked a Delhi-Srinagar flight in Amritsar on August 4, 1982, with a ball made out of cloth pieces which he termed a 'bomb.' It was the first day of the Dharam Yudh Morcha [righteous agitation] and Akali leaders were courting arrest.

He took the flight to Lahore, but as it had 70 foreigners he thought landing it there would earn a bad name for the Sikh community. He brought the flight back to Amritsar where the authorities asked him to list his demands. He said he would talk only in the presence of representatives of Sant Harchand Singh Longowal and Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.

Later, he surrendered in the presence of then Akali Dal General Secretary Parkash Singh Majitha.

Gurbaksh said he remained in jail for about two and a half years during which he was reportedly tortured. Even after his release, the police tracked him and more cases were registered against him.

In the meantime, the S.G.P.C. employed him in 1987 at a monthly salary of Rs. 700, but he had to resign after a few years owing to some family problems. He was again appointed in 1995 at a salary of Rs. 1,800. However, his second stint too didn't last long as somebody accused him of trying to malign the image of the Sikh leadership. The S.G.P.C. held a meeting on December 16, 1998, and terminated his services.

Gurbaksh claimed he sold off all his property to fight legal battles. He said he had no source of income to look after himself and his ailing wife.

Gurbaksh Singh said he would start his trip to Amritsar on November 15. Dressed in black, he would cycle his way to the holy city to reach there on November 22.