Congress President Rahul Gandhi while addressing booth workers’ meeting in Delhi showered immense respect and affection for the terror organisation Jaish-e-Mohammad chief, Masood Azhar.
At around 32:07 in the above speech, Congress President is heard saying, “Pulwama mein bomb phata? 40-45 humare CRPA… CRPF ke log shaheed hue. Kisne… Kisne bomb bus mein kisne bomb phaada (he probably meant phoda)? Bomb kisne phaada? Jaish-e-Mohammad. Masood Azhar. Yaad hoga? Ab yeh chhappan inch wale chhati wale aapko yaad hoga… Jab inki pichhli sarkar thi to aircraft mein Masood Azhar jee ke saath baith kar jo aaj National Security Advisor hai, Ajit Doval, Masood Azhar ko jaa kar Kandahar mein hawale kar ke aa gaye the. Pulwama mein agar bomb blast hua, zaroor Pakistan ke logon ne, Jaish-e-Mohammad ne karwaya. Magar Masood Azhar ko BJP ne jail se chhudwaya. Congress party ke do PM shaheed hue hai, hum kisike saamne nahin jhukte hai.”
That in Pulwama terror attack, Pakistan along with Jaish-e-Mohammad headed by Masood Azhar were involved. In the previous NDA government, the current NSA, Ajit Doval took Masood Azhar jee in a plane to Kandahar and let him go. Two Prime Ministers belonging to Congress party have been ‘martyred’, we do not bow down before anyone, said the Congress President.
Other than the fact that Rahul Gandhi has just shown immense respect for a terrorist, he is also factually incorrect on two instances in his 5-minute speech.
On December 24, 1999, Indian Airlines IC 814 with 178 passengers and 11 crew members left Kathmandu for Delhi. It entered Indian airspace at 5.30 pm and was hijacked shortly after. The airline was hijacked by Harkat-ul-Mujahideen with the support and active assistance of ISI before flying to several locations before landing in Kandahar, Afghanistan. The hostage crisis ended after seven days when India agreed to release three dreaded Islamic terrorists – Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, and Maulana Masood Azhar.
IC-814 was en route from Kathmandu to New Delhi. The hijackers directed the pilot Captain Devi Sharan to fly to Lahore initially. However, The captain flew to Amritsar citing insufficient fuel and persuaded the hijackers to allow him to land the plane at Amritsar. While the Crisis Management Group (CMG) headed by the Cabinet Secretary was still deliberating on how to deal with the situation, the IC-814 had already left Amritsar. Even though there was a 45-50 minute window to carry out an operation to end the hostage crisis, the government of the day did not prefer to take the risk, fearing the casualties. The reluctance from the government to go for an NSG operation also came from the fact that the opposition led by the Congress party, aided by its friendly media had put severe pressure to make sure that the Vajpayee government did not consider any military operation to release the hostages.
Years later, many senior government officials who were involved with the negotiating team, including NSA Ajit Doval had spoken about the negative role played by the media to put pressure on the release of hostages. The CMG had also kept the Prime minister Vajpayee in the dark for almost 90 minutes after the hijacking further limiting the options for the government.
IC 814 was eventually taken to Kandahar in Southern Afghanistan from Amritsar, after briefly touching down in Lahore and Dubai. After the IC-814 reached Kandahar, which incidentally was the base of the Taliban government, headed by Mullah Mohammed Omar. The hijackers had demanded the release of 35 terrorists from Indian prisons, including the dreaded terrorist Maulana Masood Azhar and had demanded $200mn in cash.
The Indian Government sent in a team of negotiators headed by Diplomat Vivek Katju, Ajit Doval, who was a high ranking Intelligence Bureau officer then, Nehchal Sandhu, and CD Sahay, along with few other representatives of Bureau of Civil Aviation Security. On December 31, 1999, the crisis came to an end as India agreed to release three of the top militants including Masood Azhar, the founder of the terrorist outfit, Jaish-e-Mohammad. During these negotiations, Doval was also effective in bringing down the number of terrorists to be released from 35 to just three.
According to some experts, Ajit Doval had opposed the release of Masood Azhar, as he knew the repercussions of releasing such a dreaded terrorist. However, Ajit Doval being a government official then had to fall in line with the decisions of the government. Reportedly, Ajit Doval had requested the government for more time to negotiate a deal without the release of Azhar to rescue the hostages.
It is rather shocking that Rahul Gandhi who aspires to lead the country in the future seems to have no idea concerning the tough negotiations that follow with terror groups during such national emergencies.
Further, he states that two Congress Prime Ministers were ‘martyred’ losely implying two Congress Prime Ministers were killed while they were serving. However, only his grandmother, Indira Gandhi was serving as a Prime Minister when she was assassinated. His father, Rajiv Gandhi was not assassinated when he was the Prime Minister on 21 May 1991. And unless he means Lal Bahadur Shastri’s mysterious death in Tashkent as a murder, it would be factually incorrect to say that two Congress prime ministers were killed while serving.
Moreover, Congress’ love for terrorists is nothing new. Earlier, senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh had also once referred to Osama Bin Laden as ‘Osama jee’ which he later tried to twist it as a sarcastic comment.