New Delhi, June 6: Maulana Masood Azhar, the prime mastermind of the Pathankot airbase terror attack, claimed that India offered cash to the Taliban government to capture and hand over him along with two others.
The alleged deal was made to Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansur, the Taliban chief who was killed in a US drone strike last month by the then External Affairs minister Jaswant Singh after Masood Azhar and two others were exchanged for passengers and crew of the hijacked Indian Airlines flight IC-814 at Kandahar in 1999, reported the Indian Express.
These three were personally received by the Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansur.
This claim has been made by the JeM chief in an obituary of Mansur, posted under his pen name Saidi in an online mouthpiece of the terror outfit.
In the obituary, Azhar mentioned about his meeting with Mansur "Once I had a meeting with Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansur at Kandahar airport. This airport came under his ministry. I was part of a delegation from Karachi. Taliban had provided a plane to bring the delegation from Kabul to Kandahar where Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansur welcomed us. He took the guests to the VIP lounge... Mullah sahib made me sit next to him on the sofa. Then he told me that Indian foreign minister Jaswant Singh sat on the same sofa when he brought you to drop you at Kandahar."
Azhar added: "... he (Mansur) started repeating the story of that day with a lot of pleasure. He said that Jaswant Singh had told him that our prisoners (Azhar, Zargar and Sheikh) would still be in Afghanistan and you arrest them and hand them over to us, hum aap ki hukumat ko malamaal karengey (we will make your government rich).''
Quoting Mansur, Azhar wrote: "...'I (Mansur) told him that if you are able to return (to India) safely, even that would be a big thing'."
However, the chief of India's Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) at the time, A S Dulat told The Indian Express that "money never came up at all" during that episode.
"It is bunkum. Unfortunately, the claim is regarding a conversation between two men that nobody can verify because one is dead and another is in coma," he said.