Sonia Gandhi critical of BJP leaders role during Kandhar episode

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Kheralu village (Gujarat), Apr 25 (ANI): Congress President Sonia Gandhi continued to attack the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over the Kandhar plane hijack episode of December, 1999.

She assailed the role of leaders of the BJP during the issue while addressing a huge election rally here on Friday.

Sonia charged the then Foreign Minister and Home Minister under the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Government for misleading the country by issuing contradictory statements on the Kandhar issue.

L K Advani was Minister of Home while Jaswant Singh was the Foreign Minister in the BJP-led NDA Government when the flight from Kathmandu was hijacked in mid-air on the eve of X'mas in 1999 and taken to Kandahar in Afghanistan.

However, on Friday, a leading Indian daily newspaper had featured an interview with Jaswant Singh, presently contesting as a candidate of the BJP from Darjeeling in West Bengal, in which he said that Advani and another Minister Arun Shourie had opposed the cabinet's decision in handling the hijack.

In his autobiography, Advani is quoted as saying he was unaware of the government's move to free the hijacked Indian Airlines aircraft.aking these two contradictory aspects, Sonia questioned the integrity of the BJP leaders.

"I have read a statement of Jaswant Singh. And Advani has told something else to a television channel on the same issue. Both were in the same government, both knew everything. The question is not that whether they went Kandhar and why or why not, but the question is of telling the truth. I think this is not correct for the one in politics to hide the truth from the people. If they have done anything wrong, they should straightaway say that a mistake is committed," she said.

Five armed men had hijacked the Airbus A-300 with 189 passengers and crew on board and enroute the aircraft had touched down in western India, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates before landing in Kandhar in Afghanistan.

The hijackers killed one passenger during the week-long suspense but the remaining passengers and crew walked free after India released three Kashmir separatist militants from jail.

Later, India said that the hijackers, who were never caught, were all Pakistanis and accused Pakistan's Government of complicity in the hijacking. (ANI)

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