Kandhar trade-off: Advani knew, says Brajesh
New Delhi: In a startling disclosure, former national security advisor (NSA) Brajesh Mishra claimed on Thursday that LK Advani was in the loop regarding all the key decisions taken with regard to the hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane to Kandahar in Afghanistan.
Mishra rebutted Advani’s contention that he was unaware about IC-814 being taken from Amritsar to Kandahar by terrorists. He also rejected the view that Advani did not know that a cabinet minister (Jaswant Singh) would be flying to Kandahar to secure the release of the hostages in exchange for the three most wanted terrorists.
Speaking on the issue, Mishra said that a proposal was made in the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) that Jaswant Singh should go and bring back the hostages and it was agreed by the CCS.
On being probed about Advani’s claim that he was unaware of the descion to send Jaswant Singh to Kandahar, he said, “I am not going to get into anything that then home minister Advani said. I will only draw attention to the fact that key members of the cabinet committee on security (CCS) George Fernandes, Jaswant Singha and Yashwant Sinha have very clearly said he (Advani) was there.”
“Let put it more charitably as George Fernandes said, may he has forgotten, quipped Mishra.
Also, a news channel has quoted Mishra as saying, “LK Advani knew all about the IC-814 hijacking. Advani agreed to send the plane to Kandahar to free the hostages. The terrorists had threatened to kill all the 160 passengers onboard. Advani knew that Jaswant (Singh) was on the plane with the terrorists.”
Advani had been claiming all along that he did not know that Jaswant Singh was on the plane with the three dreaded terrorists to Kandahar.
The former NSA added that it was one of the most difficult decisions the NDA government had to take.
Giving details of the trade off, Mishra said, “Initial demand was for release of 36 terrorists and 200 million dollars as ransom and interned remains of some terrorist buried here. There was a unanimous ‘no’ in the CSS on it. Later negotiations began and it was whittled down to the release of three terrorists in lieu of saving the lives of 160 odd passengers.”
Taking on the media Mishra rued, “I don’t want to be too critical of the media but at that time they were sponsoring the family members of the passengers to protest seeking release of terrorist.”
He also claimed that all political parties had met at Vajpayee’s residence during the height of the crisis and agreed that hostages should be brought back at all costs.
Mishra’s views on the Kandahar hijacking comes days after former External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh embarrassed Advani by saying that he (Jaswant Singh) "covered" up for him (Advani) when he said that the former home minister was not aware that he was going to Kandahar with three terrorists in 1999.
Supporting former NSA Brajesh Mishra’s claim that Advani had full knowledge of Kandhar, Ex FM Yashwant Sinha said that “It is true that in that CCS meet in Dec 1999, LK Advani was present and had full involvement in the decisions taken.”
“The decisions of the Cabinet Committee are recorded and they are not a matter of personal opinion. The CCS meet minutes need to be examined for clarifications,” he said.
“IC-814 is a matter of recent history and not a matter of party hence LK Advani should come out and clarify on what happened,” he added.