A Delhi court on Monday acquitted two men of charges of waging war against the country in a case relating to the hijacking of a Delhi-Srinagar Indian Airlines flight and forcing it to land in Pakistan in 1981.
Accused Tajinder Pal Singh and Satnam Singh were granted “benefit of doubt” by the court, which said the prosecution has failed to prove the charges beyond “reasonable doubt”.
According to the prosecution, Indian Airlines flight IC-423 with 111 passengers and crew members took off from Delhi’s Palam airport for Srinagar on September 29, 1981. It was hijacked by the accused, who forced the plane to land in Lahore, where they were arrested and underwent imprisonment from September 30, 1981 to October 31, 1994 as part of their life sentence by a court there. The hijackers, who reportedly belonged to Dal Khalsa, had sought release of several Khalistani extremists, including Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.
Additional Sessions Judge Ajay Pandey said: “Mahinder Singh (counsel for accused) rightly submitted that specific role and identification of accused persons was required from witnesses… In this case accused persons were not identified by any witnesses produced by the prosecution to have done any such act of waging or attempting or abetting to wage war against Government of India.”
Besides Satnam and Tejinder Pal Singh, accused Gajender Singh, Karan Singh and Jasbir Singh were also arrested in Lahore and prosecuted and sentenced to life imprisonment.