India

When Atal Bihari Vajpayee started asking for bail for the boy who hijacked the plane…

Sitaram Kesari ji sitting in the plane said, ‘When we came to know that you are in Lucknow, my life came to life. Trust me you will definitely come. We will be saved.

The late Atal Bihari Vajpayee, with his eloquence, not only avoided difficult questions, but at times used to scuttle the whole issue. There are some such anecdotes from his life, in which he set an example of brilliant use of language and humour. The incident happened on January 22, 1992, when an Indian Airlines flight from Lucknow to Delhi was hijacked 15 minutes after take-off. A man on the plane claimed to have a bomb in his hand and said that if such leader does not meet me, I will blow up the plane. After this there was silence in the plane.

This is during the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi movement. President’s rule was imposed in the state. Atal ji had been the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha. Coincidentally that day, he was staying at the State Guest House on Mirabai Marg and was having food in the room inside. In the outside room attached to that room, the then Governor of Bihar Lalji Tandon was sitting with some people. Atal ji was to return to Delhi at night.

Talking to The Economic Times, Lalji Tandon had told that the Ayodhya movement was at its peak in the year 1992 when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the MP of Lucknow. Both of us were having dinner at the guest house in Lucknow. Suddenly, Ashok Priyadarshi, the then District Magistrate of Lucknow and the then Governor of the state, B. Satyanarayana Reddy’s advisors entered the room.

Seeing this, Tandon ji said, ‘Atal ji is having food and you guys reached here straight away. The then District Magistrate Priyadarshi said with folded hands, ‘At Amausi airport, a boy has boarded a plane going to Delhi. He is holding something like a grenade. All their efforts are in vain and the hijacker wanted to meet Atalji, he will fly the plane with 120 passengers.

On this Lalji Tandon advised Atal ji to first investigate the veracity of the incident and said that his own life would be in danger. But he was determined to save the lives of the passengers and ran for the airport. Atalji could hardly climb a tower to talk to the kidnapper. But, the boy was not ready to accept that Atal ji was speaking. Eventually Atalji had to go inside the plane to meet him. Lalji Tandon also went with Vajpayee in the plane.

Lalji Tandon told the kidnapper that you wanted to meet Vajpayee, he is standing in front of you. You put your demand and touch their feet. As soon as he bent down to touch Atal ji’s feet, the security forces caught him. The boy took the object in his hand and said, ‘It is nothing but a ball of twine.’ According to Tandon,’ Atal ji said, ‘it was innocence and boyhood this boy had done such an incident. But, make sure to bail it out. Its future should not be spoiled.

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