Release of three terrorists was only to save innocent hostages

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New Delhi, Apr 4 (UNI) Stung by the criticism of Congress President Sonia Gandhi against BJP's Prime Ministerial nominee L K Advani, the BJP today said that the 'painful decision' to release three jailed Jammu and Kashmir terrorists was taken only to secure the release of 160 odd hostages onboard Indian Airlines aircraft.

Reacting to Mrs Gandhi's comments yesterday in Rajasthan that the NDA kept its own Home Minister in the dark because he was not aware of the swap of terrorists for hostages in December 1999 in Kandahar, BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad said BJP rejected Mrs Gandhi's consistent charge against NDA's approach in dealing with painful episode. Instead of giving answers to critical issues of governance, inflation, price rise food and national security, the Congress party is seeking to deflect the debate from these burning issues, he alleged.

The statement however skirted Mrs Gandhi's charge that NDA did not have faith in Mr Advani and kept him in the dark about the release of terrorists when Mr Prasad said that the former Deputy Prime Minister was an effective Home Minister who never compromised on terrorism. This was fact was known too well. "This indeed is the theme of Atal Bihari Vajpayee led NDA Government", Mr Prasad said in a statement.

He said the BJP and its leadership doesn't require any lesson on nationalism and Mrs Gandhi would do the country a great service if she focussed her ire on the rag tap experiment against the UPA instead of attacking the opposition. "What to comment on a leader who has not learnt any lessons of repeated adverse electoral verdicts handed out against the Congress", he said pointing to the defeats in several assembly polls.

Under the last four years of 'UPA misrule', repeated signals had gone to terrorists and their patrons abroad that the government natinoal security was a casualty before the appeasement politics for votes, Mr Prasad said.

UNI MCN LS DB1837

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