IC-814 hijack: BJP hits back at Congress criticism

New Delhi, July 3 (IANS) The BJP on Friday hit back at the Congress’ criticism of its handling of the 1999 IC-814 hijack crisis, and said the decision to release terrorist was taken at the “highest level”.

“On Kandahar, consultations were held at the highest level by senior leaders of National Democratic Alliance,” Bharatiya Janaata Party spokesperson M.J. Akbar told reporters here.

Former chief of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) A.S. Dulat on Thursday said no clear instructions were given to police on December 24, 1999, when the hijacked Indian Airlines plane landed in Amritsar. Because of this, the hijackers took off the plane to Kandahar in Afghanistan, he added.

The Congress, reacting to the revelation based on Dulat’s comment that the government “goofed up” in its response, demanded an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

On the Congress’ demand, Akbar said: “It was a national crisis and in the spirit of the (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee government, consultations were held with all the parties. Everybody was kept in the loop.”

However, the Congress has termed Dulat’s statements as “disturbing facts”.

“They (the BJP) have compromised the interests of the country whenever they have been in power. Who was behind these decisions? The prime minister should break his silence and apologise to the country,” Congress spokesperson Ajoy Kumar said.

But Akbar challenged the Congress party and asked: “Should those 400 plus Indians had been allowed to die?”

On Kandahar, “the Congress has a very convenient memory… it’s regrettable… perhaps they have occasional lapses of amnesia when it suits them,” he added.

Dulat’s book, “Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years”, is slated to be released shortly.

The BJP leader also demanded an apology from the Congress for raising questions about Modi’s integrity, citing Gujarat riots.

“There is no question of the prime minister’s apology regarding 2002 riots. He was exonerated in the matter,” Akbar said.

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