Hashim hijacks Ganga

On January 30, 1971 an Indian Airlines Fokker F27 Friendship aircraft named Ganga was hijacked by two Kashmiris, Hashim Qureshi and his cousin Ashraf Butt, and was flown to Lahore, Pakistan where the passengers and crew were released and plane was burnt on February 1, 1971. The hijackers were accorded a warm welcome at Lahore. Former Pakistan president, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who happened to be at the airport also met the hijackers. However, the hijackers were later taken into custody and put on trial. A court held them guilty of hijacking and sentenced Hashim to nine year imprisonment. After his release he sought asylum in the Netherlands.

Ganga was one of the oldest aircraft in the Indian Airlines fleet and was already withdrawn from service but was re-inducted days before the hijacking.

India retaliated to the hijacking and subsequent burning of the aircraft by banning over flights by Pakistani aircraft. This over flight ban in the run up to the December 1971 war between India and Pakistan had a significant impact on troop movement into erstwhile East Pakistan, now Bangladesh.

The hijackers were accorded a hero’s welcome at the Lahore airport. However, later they were put on trial and imprisoned. Hashim Qureshi, the main accused surrendered to the immigration authorities at Indra Gandhi International Airport at New Delhi on December 29, 2000. He was taken into custody and rushed to Srinagar. After sustained interrogation for a year, he was finally put on trial. The case is pending adjudication in a Srinagar court.