New Delhi, June 6: Maulana Masood Azhar in an obituary makes a note of a conversation he had with the slain Taliban chief, Mullah Mansour. He says that Mansour had met with Jaswanth Singh who was the external affairs minister during the Khandahar hijack.
Singh is said to have told Mansour to keep Azhar in Afghanistan and in return India would pay them money.
Maulana Masood Azhar and two other terrorists were handed over in Afghanistan in exchange for the hostages aboard IC-814 which was hijacked. A delegation led by Singh had landed in Afghanistan to hand over Azhar.
In an obituary that Azhar writes for Mansour who was recently killed in a drone attack, he quoted an alleged conversation with Singh. Azhar says during a meeting with Mansour was offered money by Singh to keep Azhar and the rest in Afghanistan.
He also said that Azhar and the rest should be sent back to India, but Mansour refused the offer and told him to worry about his own safety.
No money was involved:
Former Chief of the Research and Analysis Wing, C D Sahay who was part of the entire operation leading up to the release of the hostages says that he cannot recollect money being involved. No such offer was made ever and Azhar is speaking out of his imagination.
First and foremost, the Taliban which was running the government did not allow the plane to land in Khandahar when they realised it had been hijacked.
However 30 minutes later, they changed their stance and even informed us that the airport had night landing facility. Did they get a call from Islamabad or Rawalpindi to grant permission for the plane to land. I suspect that someone would have told the Taliban that the plane was hijacked to ensure the release of Azhar.
Now coming to the money part of it. The hijackers had a couple of demands which included money in exchange for the hostages apart from the release of Azhar and two others.
The demands were taken to Mullah Omar the then chief of the Taliban. He rejected the money offer saying that it is anti Islam to seek ransom money.
As far as I can recollect there were no talks held with the Taliban and hence the question of money coming up is ruled out. The Taliban was in fact trying to put up a benign face and making it seem that all was normal. They knew that the entire world's attention was on Khandahar.