Suitcase for Taliban jibe: This is what really happened at Kandahar

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Amidst all the debate relating to the "suitcase," issue, Congress leader Manish Tewari has taken the issue to a complete level of "illogical."

While reacting to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's jibe at the Congress that they followed the suitcase culture, Tewari said that it was the NDA government which in 1999 allegedly took several suitcases loaded with money and handed these to the Taliban terrorists in Kandhar in Afghanistan.

This is what really happened at Kandahar

Did the government in 1999 take suitcases and hand it over to the Taliban? Was the entire Kandahar hijack drama meant to extract money from the Indian government?

CD Sahay, the former chief of the Research and Analysis Wing who was part of the team which negotiated with the Taliban for the release of the Indian passengers on board the IC 814 which was hijacked tells OneIndia exactly what transpired.

Firstly it was an ISI and not a Taliban operation:

Sahay says that one must bear in mind that the Taliban came into the picture only because the flight that was hijacked landed in Kandahar, Afghanistan. This was an ISI controlled operation with just one aim and that was to release the terrorist and Jaish-e-Mohammad leader, Maulana Masoor Azhar. There were various demands that were made, but the only thing that the ISI wanted at the end of it was the release of Azhar.

It was made to appear as though it was the Taliban which was stage managing this entire incident. All through it was the ISI which was controlling the operation and the Taliban was put in the front to do all the talking with India, Sahay adds.

Mullah Omar never wanted money:

"I was present in that room where the negotiations were taking place. The Taliban which was ruling Afghanistan had sent its foreign minister to speak with us. The hijackers had given us a list of demands which was placed before the foreign minister.

The list also included a demand for money. I saw the list myself and even conveyed the same to New Delhi. However the government was not ready to give any money. The foreign minister of Afghanistan told us that he will need to take this list to Mullah Omar the Supreme Commander of the Taliban and discuss it with him.

Now this may surprise everyone. When the foreign minister came back to the negotiating room he conveyed to all of us present what Mullah Omar had to say. Mullah Omar had conveyed that demanding ransom against the lives of people was un-Islamic and hence that demand had to be dropped by the hijackers.

Another demand on the list was to shift the mortal remains of a fighter by the name Sajjad Afghani who had died in Kashmir. Sajjad had been buried in Kashmir and the hijackers had said that his body should be exhumed and sent to Pakistan. Mullah Omar said if the body has been buried as per Islamic rites, then exhuming it would be un-Islamic.

All through the negotiations one thing was clear and they wanted the release of Maulana Masood Azhar. The hijacking was carried out only for this purpose and this was their major demand. No money was given to the ISI or the Taliban," the former R&AW chief pointed out.

What was Congress doing for ten years?

Sahay says that the statement by Manish Tewari comes as a surprise. Why is he making these un-verified comments? This particular statement that we had taken suitcases to release the passengers from Kandahar beats all logic.

There were 166 lives at stake and their families expected a lot from the government. Our concern was to secure the release of these passengers safely. When this was the situation is it fair on the part of Tewari to make such un-verified statements in a light hearted political debate?

Whether we had given the money or not has become a debate today. The Congress was in power all these years. They had enough time to determine and investigate if the money was really handed over or not. There is enough data available on this incident which the Congress when in power could have taken out and debated.

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