The ‘Hijack of Democracy’ by Indira Gandhi led Congress


It was 20th of December 1978, the Indian Airlines flight IC 410 having 126 passengers took off from Lucknow for the last lap of its journey from Kolkata to Delhi. Two men among the passengers, Bolathnath Pandey and Devendra Pandey got up from their seats and slowly moved in the direction of the cockpit just a few minutes prior to the landing of aircraft at Delhi’s Palam Airport.

The duo disguised the cabin crew and forcibly entered the cockpit. By this time, the fellow passengers had realized that something fishy was going on and they were helplessly trapped in a big conspiracy with their lives at stake.

                    Bhola Nath Pandey and Devendra Pandey (Source: India Today)

Hijackers who said they were allegedly members of Youth Congress(I) forced the cockpit staff to make the public announcement that “the flight has been hijacked and now we are going to Patna”, which was later changed to Varanasi with another announcement. These two wanted Indira Gandhi to be released from jail, all criminal cases against her and Sanjay Gandhi to be withdrawn, and the Janata Party’s democratically elected Government at the center to file a resignation.

All of this was being done to forcefully demand the release of a former prime minister of who has barbarically imposed emergency on the free and democratic spirit of India.
the 21 month Period( 1975- 1977) of emergency is stated as the darkest period of modern India.

 (Source: Indian Herald )


1. Sterilisation:
– Emergency gave immense power in hands of both Indira Gandhi and her son Sanjay     Gandhi.
– villainous sterilization covered under the name of family planning.
– old, unmarried individuals and people from the opposition were sterilized forcefully.

2. Arrests:
– Evoking Article 325, misuse of Police to detain protesters and strike leaders including prominent opposition leaders
– reports were there of torture of many protesters till death.
– many protesters went underground to save themselves from this heinous act.

3. Media: Newspaper, television, radio suffered a lot and was barred from publishing anything against the will of Indira Gandhi.

4. Elections: Emblem of democracy, i.e., Fair elections were brought to a halt.

5. Law: Got ordinance passed which allowed Gandhi to rule by order. She amended the constitution in a way which relieved her from any election fraud. 42nd amendment was imposed which gave free hand to Gandhi and made her above the judiciary.


These two Congressmen forced authorities to convey their regards to Sanjay Gandhi and summon the CM of state for talks, only after which they will release passengers. The following week was marked by nationwide violence by Congress members targeting public property, throwing bomb in the house of Mr. Samar Guha (Chairman of the Committee of Privileges of the Lok Sabha) and several people were killed at various places.

All this agitation and hijacking became a matter of fierce debate in Lok Sabha on 23rd December. Congressmen like R.Venkataraman were quick to shamefully defend this heinous crime.

Later in 1979, Chaudhary Charan Singh’s 170 days government was formed with Congress’s support and all the cases against both Pandeys were withdrawn. In 1980, Congress awarded the Hijacker with an assembly election ticket. Bolathnath Pandey was given the Lok Sabha election ticket to Salempur Lok Sabha constituency in Uttar Pradesh.

Preservers of “democracy destroyers” were praised for their loyalty.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SatyaVijayi.