In 1981, a New Delhi-to-Srinagar Indian Airlines plane with 111 passengers and six crew members on board was hijacked by five Sikh extremists and taken to Lahore. Then under Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq’s dictatorship, Pakistan had launched a special forces operation to drive out the hijackers.
The hijackers - advocates of a separate Sikh homeland - were arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment in Pakistan.
Two of the five hijackers, who had moved to Canada and the US after serving a life sentence in Pakistan, were deported back to India in the late 1990s.
The accused had been facing trial on the charges of waging war against the Indian state. Faced with possibilities of ‘double jeopardy’ in the hijacking case, the two had reportedly received help from Punjab’s Legal Aid Team on directions of Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh.
The Delhi Police had filed a chargesheet in the case in 2011. The prosecution had been arguing that the offences for which they were convicted in Pakistan were different from the ones mentioned in the chargesheet.
A Delhi court has acquitted the two in the case today.
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