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1971: Kashmir India Hijacking by Jammu and Kashmir National Liberation Front

Hijacker Hashim Qureshi Went from Militant to Philanthropist


Jammu & Kashmir, contested land between Pakistan and India

Jammu & Kashmir, contested land between Pakistan and India



In 1971, Ashraf and Hashim qureshi, two leaders of the Kashmiri Liberation Front hijacked an Indian Airlines plane and took it to Lahore, to publicize the Kashmiri independence movement. In Lahore, they destroyed the plane by lighting it on fire. None of the 32 passengers were hurt.

Tactic/ Type Hijacking


Ashraf and Hashim Qureshi, acting in the name of the Jammu & Kashmiri National Liberation Front (JKNLF)

Where: The hijacking took place in the airspace over Jammu. Jammu is one of three areas (Jammu, Ladakh and Kashmire) htat make up the Kashmiri state, which sits between India and Pakistan. The Kashmiri state was created in the middle of the 19th century by treaty by the British government (which then ruled India). In the middle of the 20th century, when Indians sought their independence from British rule, Kashmiris followed suit and sought independence from the Kashmiri rule that had been imposed on them. When India and Pakistan were divided in 1947, Kashmir joined India, but fighting soon erupted between Pakistani and Indian forces for control of the Kashmir.

When: January 30, 1971

The Story:

Hashim Qureshi was in his late teens in 1970, when Maqbool Bhat, the leader of a Kashmiri independence group, Jammu and Kashmiri Liberation Front (JKLF) requested that he hijack a plane to help publicize the Kashmiri quest for independence from India. At the time, hijacking was virtually a fad among left-wing independence groups, from the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) to the Eritrean Liberation Front.

Qureshi, then a teenager, was given flying and weapons training. On the day of the kidnapping he and a partner, Ashraf Qureshi, boarded the plan with a .22 pistol and a briefcase with a fake grenade inside. When the plane reached Jammu (an area within Kashmir, which is actually properly called Jammu and Kashmir), Hashim walked up to the cockpit, put the pistol against the pilot's throat and diverted the plane to Lahore, Pakistan. In Pakistan, the hijackers and the passengers remained in the plane for 80 hours. Then, according to Hashim Qureshi, the Pakistani intelligence service requested they destroy the plane. Kerosene was spread inside the plane, and Qureshi was given a match.

After the plane's destruction, Hashim Qureshi was taken to a detention center in Pakistan where he was tortured by the Pakistanis (Qureshi said in 2001: " They put me on ice, they beat me with rubber batons. They wouldn't let me sleep for 13 days. Whenever I nodded off they would probe me awake with electric current. They did it for more than one month and 15 days.")

Qureshi was sentenced to 19 years in prison, after being tried in a special court convened in Pakistan. He was released after 8 years in prison, in 1981. After his imprisonment, he married a Pakistani woman. They have four children.

Qureshi has since renounced violence. In 1994, he established the Maqbool National Welfare Association, which is dedicated to helping widows and orphans of Kashmiri militants. These women and children are ineligable for government aid.

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