IC-814 was India's 'diplomatic failure', says Doval

New Delhi: A decade after the hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane, the Chief Indian negotiator who engaged the hijackers blamed the then government for its "diplomatic failure" in their inability to make the US and UAE use their influence to help secure a quick release of the passengers.

A K Doval, the 64-year-old former Intelligence Bureau Chief, who led the four-member negotiating team to Kandahar, even went to the extent of calling the "diplomatic failure" a "bloody disgrace" for India.

He regretted that the Government was unable to put up an effective case about the hijack crisis before the international community.

The Indian Airlines Plane with 174 passengers and a 11-member crew on a flight from Kathmandu to Delhi was hijacked on December 24, 1999 while it was overflying Lucknow. The crisis ended on December 31.

Doval in an interview to PTI today was candid enough to say that "no one worth any consequence was contacted either by the (then) Foreign Minister (Jaswant Singh) or the (then) Foreign Secretary (Lalit Mansingh)."

"...there was a diplomatic failure on our inability. When we know that the US is totally against the terrorists, they are against the Taliban, they had total hold over the UAE, we could not leverage this thing. Our Ambassador could not even get inside the airport (in Abu Dhabi).

"We should have been able to this thing...the engagement should been done at the highest level. If need be the Prime Minister (could) have talked to the President of America" and tell him that the plane is in Abu Dhabi, which is practically an US airbase in the middle," said Doval, the first police officer to have been decorated with second highest military award--Kirti Chakra--in 1988.