'Advani is right on Kandahar controversy'

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New Delhi, May 10: Seeking to defuse controversy over Mr L K Advani's claim in his book that he was unaware about the decision to release three terrorists in exchange for about 150 passengers of hijacked Indian Airlines Flight IC-814 in December 1999, former External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh said it was a collective decision of the Cabinet and ''Mr Advani perhaps might have not been present in the meeting''.

''But what Mr Advani is saying is correct. He is our leader and how can I dispute what he is saying,'' he said when confronted in this regard at an interaction with media at his residence. Mr Singh, who felt a little uneasy to respond to such a query, said: ''Why do you want to drag me in this controversy? He is my leader. You cannot expect me to counter his claim. It is possible that he may not be aware of the decision. The Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha said the NDA government headed by Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee was to choose between two 'wrongs'...whether it should allow the passengers to be killed or agree to release the terrorists? ''We decided that we should save the passengers, which was also the demand of all Opposition parties, including the Congress, and various social organisations and people as well,'' he added.

Mr Singh, who had accompanied the three dreaded terrorists on the special plane to Kandahar, said they were aware that the government might be criticised for the decision. ''But we thought our decision was correct,'' he asserted.


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