NEW DELHI, India -- A pistol-waving religious zealot hijacked an Indian Airlines jet carrying 69 people Friday but was shot and killed by commandos moments before he had threatened to begin killing his hostages.
The frantic, six-hour drama ended about 350 miles north of New Delhi at Amritsar airport when two commandos and two policemen disguised as 'sweepers' entered the Boeing 737 and killed the hijacker during a brief gun battle. Police said the hijacker was armed with a .32-caliber pistol.
The hijacker, who also wielded what appeared to be a grenade, had promised to begin 'shooting one passenger every hour' unless his demands were met in the sixth hour of the hijacking.
There were no injuries reported among the 63 passengers. Among the crew of six, a stewardess was hurt when she jumped out of the plane as the shooting began, the Press Trust of India said.
An Indian Airlines officials said all those on board were 'perfectly safe.'
The body of the hijacker, identified as Museebat Singh, tumbled out of the hot and steamy aircraft three hours after the jet touched down in Amritsar, police said. Two hijacking dramas by Sikh extremists have ended in Amritsar in the last 16 days.
Singh identified himself as a member of the Sikh religious sect, which is fighting for independence in the northern Punjab state.
The hijacker stormed the cockpit of the plane, headed from New Delhi to Bombay, moments after it took off from a scheduled stop in Jodhpur, 350 miles southwest of New Delhi. He ordered the plane to Lahore, Pakistan, and presented a list of six demands, his gun trained to the head of Capt. Surendra Mohan throughout much of the ordeal.
Authorities in Lahore refused permission for the jet to land, forcing the jet to land at Amritsar.
A woman and her infant daughter, who later told police the hijacker ordered passengers to 'sit calmly,' were released. Moments later, the hijacker ordered the plane to Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Included in the hijacker's demands was a meeting with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, $84,000 in West German currency, and the transfer of power of the chief minister of Punjab State, Darbara Singh, to the former chief minister of state, Prakash Singh Badal, an opposition leader.
In a separate incident Friday in Punjab, the state minister escaped an attack on his life when an unidentified man hurled a grenade at him. He was unharmed but 30 other people were injured in the attack.
Punjab is a bastion for an estimated 10 million Sikhs, the third largest religious group in India.
On Aug. 4, a man claiming to be a Sikh priest took over a flight with a plastic ball he clutched as a bomb, but surrendered at Amritsar Airport after releasing all 135 passengers.