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Defence personnel, Congress workers censure Rahul over ‘Masood Azhar Ji’


New Delhi, March 12: Defence personnel on Tuesday censured the Congress President Rahul Gandhi for terming Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar as "Masood Azhar ji ".

Addressing a meeting of Congress workers here on Monday, Gandhi attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), saying, "These people with 56 inch chest, you would recall, in their previous government, the current National Security Advisor Ajit Doval went in an aircraft with Masood Azhar ji and handed him over there in Kandahar."

Defence personnel, Congress workers censure Rahul over ‘Masood Azhar Ji’

Doval, who was a senior officer in the Intelligence Bureau in 1999, led the four-member negotiating team to Kandahar to negotiate Azhar's release.

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Azhar and two other terrorists, Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar and Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, were released from an Indian prison in 1999 by the then BJP-led government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee in exchange for the passengers held hostage on board IC-814 flight hijacked to Kandahar in Afghanistan.

Noted defence analyst Colonel Jaibans Singh (Retd.) said Rahul Gandhi is prone to commit such faux pas.

"It is one of the many faux pases Rahul Gandhi is prone to make during his speeches. It shows his lack of preparedness when he comes to address the mass gathering," said Colonel Jaibans.

He also said that strategically there is no point in investing the idea of Islamist fundamentalism on to a single person.

"When Masood Azhar dies a natural or unnatural death does not mean that the system of Islamic fundamentalism is going to break as many others would carry it forward. What is more important for India is to fight the idea of religious fundamentalism emanating from the soil of Pakistan. Militants are not responsible but the ones who protect them," said the retired Colonel.

He also said the decision to release Azhar was taken by the government of the day as per the wishes of most of the Indians back in 1999.

"Whatever a particular government had decided as per the circumstances need not be spoken off after a decade and a half. Moreover, Doval was a government servant in 1999 who was merely performing his duty. So to equate his job as a government servant with the political appointment of National Security Advisor (NSA) is like stretching things too far," said Colonel Jaibans.

Group Captain MS Deshpande (veteran) was highly critical of Rahul Gandhi and the Congress party.

"It speaks about the president of a national party. His expression of aadara (respect) for an international terrorist speaks about the legacy of the entire party. It also shows how the party must have dealt with terrorists in the last six-seven decades. It indirectly indicates that the party might have encouraged or be complacent with terrorist activities. It also indicates how unsafe would be India in the hands of such a party," said Deshpande.

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Brigadier SK Chatterji (Retd.) termed Rahul Gandhi 's statement as weird.

"It is weird that you start using ji for a killer and terrorist that is being used since ages for addressing respectable persons. Surprisingly, this has come from a person heading a major political party, " said Brigadier Chatterji.

On Monday evening, this scribe interacted with few common Congress workers at the Party headquarters posing as a Congress supporter.

The gist of the interaction with a dozen of normal Congress workers was that Rahul's statement will definitely benefit the BJP, and senior leaders of the party must learn to understand the mood of the nation.

It is worthwhile to mention thoughts of a Congress worker whose leader is seeking Lok Sabha ticket from Rajasthan.

"yeh Rahul ji kyon hamare liye musibat khadi kartey hai? Kya jarrorat thi Masood Azhar key saath ji lagane ki? Bhagawn jaaney apney senior netaao ko kyo lagta hai ki aatankwaadiyon ko izzat deney sey musalman khush ho jaayengey? Hum abhi tak Osama bin Laden ji aur Hafeez Saeed Saab ka khamiaza bhugat rahey hain aura ab Masood Azhar ji aur jud gaya! Ab BJP waaley humko buri tarah dhoyege. Rafale ko Masood Azhar ji khaa jaayega," he told this scribe while sipping tea at the Congress office's canteen.

The rough English translation of his observation is: Why does Rahul ji create problems for us? What was the need to add ji with Masood Azhar? God knows why do our senior leaders think that if they respect terrorists then Muslims will be happy? We are still paying the price of Osama ji and Hafeez Saeed sahib and now Masood Azhar ji has been added! Now the BJP supporters will beat us black and blue. Masood Azhar ji will eat up Rafale issue.

It is notable that senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh has been targeted by the BJP and common Indian for addressing Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden as "Osama ji " and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) founder Hafiz Saeed as "Hafiz Saeed sahib ".

As expected, Rahul is also being trolled on the social media by senior BJP leaders, supporters, and commoners for "Masood Azhar ji".

Union Minister Smriti Irani took to Twitter to say that Rahul Gandhi and Pakistan have one thing in common - their love for terrorists.

Another Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad tweeted: "Come on Rahul Gandhi Ji! Earlier it were the likes of Digvijay Ji who called Osama Ji and Hafiz Saeed Sahab. Now you are saying Masood Azhar Ji. What is happening to Congress Party? (sic)"

Even BJP's Twitter handle posted a video of Rahul Gandhi referring to the terrorist as 'Masood Azhar ji'.

The topic #Rahullovesterrorists has also been trending across Twitter ever since he made the comment.

The Congress that seemed on the front-foot over Rafale is now on the back-foot and answering BJP's salvos by saying Rahul used "Masood Azhar ji" sarcastically.

Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted, "2 questions to BJP & select Bhakt Media,who deliberately seek to twist the Masood' sarcasm of Rahulji - 1) Did NSA Doval not escort & release terrorist Masood Azhar in Kandahar? 2) Did Modiji not invite Pak's rogue ISI to investigate Pathankot terror attack (sic)?"

Rahul had stepped up attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over Rafale after the government told the Supreme Court that stolen information from the Defence Ministry was the basis of The Hindu story on Rafale.

The Congress should introspect if even the Congress workers did not understand Rahul's statement then what kind of sarcasm was it.

It was not sarcasm but blunder in the digital age where a certain portion of a speech can be used as a video clip to turn perception against you. For, politics is all about perception.

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