Bringing back into focus NDA’s handling of the IC-814 hijack in 1999, former Jammu & Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah on Tuesday said he believed that L K Advani was not in favour of releasing militants to secure the release of passengers onboard the hijacked plane.
“I don’t think Advani wanted the militants to be released. I could feel it in the vibration of his voice,” Abdullah said, recalling his telephone conversation with Advani at the time of the crisis.
Abdullah made these remarks at the release of former R&AW chief A S Dulat’s book “Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years”.
He added that though Advani agreed to go along with the decision to release the militants, “his heart was not into it”.
Asked about the lives of the passengers at stake, Abdullah said, “A nation cannot be built unless sacrifices are made. One cannot build India by being soft.”
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He added that the aircraft should not have been allowed to leave Amritsar.
On whether the government of the day goofed up in handling the situation, Dulat said: “If there was a goof-up, I was a part of it since I was a part of the crisis management group.”
The former R&AW chief also dismissed suggestions that money was paid as ransom to get the IC-814 passengers released.
“Not a rupee, not a dollar was paid as ransom” he said.
During the event, Abdullah also recalled an alleged incident where his son, Omar Abdullah was almost killed by the Army in the state. He claimed that while travelling on the Jammu-Srinagar highway once, Omar’s vehicle overtook an Army convoy after which the Armymen caught up with it, and the officer asked his men to “shoot” the occupants of the car.
The former J&K chief minister also spoke about the growing fundamentalism in almost all religions.
Releasing the book, Vice-President M. Hamid Ansari said that since times immemorial, imperatives of statecraft have necessitated resorting to intelligence operations and the use of intelligence agents.