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The Story Of 1971 Indian Airlines Hijacking (Ganga Hijacking) – Indian History – Free PDF


  • Hashim Qureshi, a Srinagar resident who went to Peshawar on family business in 1969, met Maqbool Bhat of the National Liberation Front (NLF).
  • Qureshi was persuaded to join the NLF and given an ideological education and lessons in guerrilla tactics in Rawalpindi.
  • In order to draw the world’s attention to the Kashmiri independence movement, the NLF planned an airline hijacking.
  • Hashim Qureshi, along with his cousin Ashraf Qureshi, was ordered to execute one.


  • However, Qureshi was arrested by the Indian Border Security Force when he tried to reenter the Indian-administered Kashmir with arms and equipment.
  • Undeterred, the Qureshis made look-alike explosives out of wood and hijacked an Indian Airlines aircraft called Ganga on 30 January 1971.


  • The hijackers landed the aircraft at Lahore and demanded the release of 36 NLF prisoners lodged in Indian jails.
  • However, they succumbed to pressure from the airport authorities and ended up releasing all the passengers and the crew.
  • Pakistani Minister Zulfikar Bhutto showed up at the airport and paid a handsome tribute to the hijackers. Indian Government then refused to carry out the demands. Eventually, upon the advice of the authorities, Hashim Qureshi burnt the aircraft.


  • For some time, the Qureshis were lauded as heroes. After India reacted by banning overflight of Pakistani aircraft over India, the Pakistani authorities claimed that the hijack was staged by India, and arrested the hijackers and all their collaborators.
  • A one-man investigation committee headed by Justice Noorul Arifeen declared the hijacking to be an Indian conspiracy, citing Qureshi’s appointment in the Border Security Force.
  • In addition to the hijackers, Maqbool Bhat and 150 other NLF fighters were arrested. Seven people were eventually brought to trial (the rest being held without charges).


  • Hashim Qureshi alone was convicted of terrorism and sentenced to seven years in prison.


Indian History | Free PDF