Tribune News Service
Amritsar, September 21
In a rare occurrence, the Akal Takht has announced to confer title of “Jilawatan Sikh Yodha” (Sikh warrior in-exile) on Gajinder Singh, one of the five men accused of hijacking an Indian Airlines plane to Lahore in 1981.
Presently, Gajinder, the founding member of Dal Khalsa, has been residing in Lahore.
It is learnt that the five high priests headed by Akal Takht’s officiating Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh, had decided to honour Gajinder for his contribution to the Sikh Panth, during the meeting held on September 18.
Today, Akal Takht Secretariat officially informed the Dal Khalsa Head Office in Amritsar through a letter in this regard. Identical letter was sent to Gajinder’s daughter Bikramjit Kaur who lives in UK with her husband and two children.
Dal Khalsa spokesperson Kanwarpal Singh Bittu said Akal Takht letter has authorised Gajinder’s daughter or any representative from Dal Khalsa to receive this honour at Akal Takht.
Kanwarpal Singh said the Akal Takht letter has been forwarded to Gajinder too. “As per the contents of the letter, though the Akal Takht has authorised his daughter or Dal Khalsa office to receive the coveted title, it also mentioned that it would be the prerogative of Gajinder only to take a final call on the one who would receive the honour on his behalf,” he said.
The final date of the customary ceremony would be announced in due course. “Probably, it would be scheduled during mid-October,” he said.
Gajinder along with four others had hijacked the Delhi-Srinagar Indian Airlines flight IC423, with 111 passengers and six crew members on board, to Lahore on September 29, 1981 to protest against the arrest of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and death of 16 Sikhs in police firing at Chowk Mehta earlier that year.
They were arrested by Pakistan agencies on September 30, tried and jailed. They were sentenced to life imprisonment by a special court in Lahore in 1986.
After they got scot-free in November 1994, two of the hijackers returned to India, Gajinder decided to stay back, the two others took asylum in Switzerland.
India had put Gajinder Singh’s name in the list of 20 “most wanted” terrorists in January 2002 and had been seeking his extradition from Pakistan.
“After the Parliament attack on December 13, 2001, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government had handed over a list of six most wanted persons, including him, and demanded that he be deported to India. However, the then Pakistan’s President General Pervez Musharraf had turned down India’s demand,” he said.
This year the government has twice blocked Gajinder Singh’s Facebook page in India.
Gajinder hails from Chandigarh and his wife Manjeet Kaur passed away in Germany in January 2019.
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