Since the gruesome Pulwama terror attack, there have been a torrent of reports on social media and newly emerged national security experts asserting that if the Vajpayee government hadn’t released the founder of Jaish-e-Mohammad, Maulana Masood Azhar, this carnage wouldn’t have happened. This flawed narrative is the basic gist of the recent article published on Satya Hindi news website founded by Ashutosh and others.
वाजपेयी सरकार की एक ग़लती का ख़ामियाज़ा बीस साल से भुगत रहा है देश । ख़ूँख़ार आतंकी मसूद अज़हर को नहीं छोड़ा होता तो संसद पर हमला नहीं होता, पुलवामा में 44जवान नहीं मरते । @BJP4India @RSSorg https://t.co/EPKqNWLwal
— ashutosh (@ashutosh83B) February 17, 2019
However, what all these self-proclaimed national security experts are conveniently ignoring is the fact that on December 31, 1999, the then Vajpayee government had to release three dreaded terrorists including Masood Azhar from Indian captivity in order to secure the release of the safety of 176 Indian passengers of hijacked IC 814 aircraft. And also, popular sentiment and media narrative played an important role in forcing the then government to surrender to the demands of the hijackers that resulted in the release of Masood Azhar. The nation wanted forces to fight but at the same time compatriots were not willing to make any sacrifices in the interest of the nation.
Well-known political commentator and senior journalist Kanchan Gupta in his blog post titled ‘The truth behind Kandahar’ has observed at that time “the brave, chest-thumping people of India turned into quivering jelly and MSM pandered to popular emotion.” In 1999, he was serving as an aide to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in the PMO
A bit late in the day. Since #Kandahar hijacking 18 years ago keeps surfacing, fuelling ill-informed debate, here's my total recall of how the brave, chest-thumping people of #India turned into quivering jelly and #MSM pandered to popular emotion.https://t.co/MPpdwWr3Lk
— Kanchan Gupta (@KanchanGupta) December 25, 2017
Kanchan Gupta had accompanied the then foreign minister, Jaswant Singh to meet the families of the passengers who were held hostage by terrorists. He recalls, “Once there, we were literally mobbed. He tried to explain the situation but was shouted down.”
Kanchan Gupta in his blog writes, “We want our relatives back. What difference does it make to us what you have to give the hijackers?” a man shouted. “We don’t care if you have to give away Kashmir,” a woman screamed and others took up the refrain, chanting: “Kashmir de do, kuchh bhi de do, hamare logon ko ghar wapas lao.” Another woman sobbed, “Mera beta… hai mera beta…” and made a great show of fainting of grief.”
To this, Jaswant Singh made a bold suggestion. He said that the Government had to keep the nation’s interest in mind, and could not afford to surrender to demands of terrorists. However, his suggestion didn’t find any takers; in fact, he was rebuked for that. Many in the crowd shouted back, “Bhaand me jaaye desh aur bhaand me jaaye desh ka hit. (To hell with the country and national interest).” Jaswant Singh was shocked by hearing such selfish responses and only managed to promise that the government would do everything possible.
The appeal of the widow of Squadron Leader Ajay Ahuja, whose plane was shot down during the Kargil war, fell on deaf ears. In fact, relatives of the hostages misbehaved with her as well. Someone from the crowd shouted back, “She has become a widow, now she wants others to become widows. Who is she to lecture us? Yeh kahan se aayi?” Others even heckled her. No one among the crowd paid any heed to the appeal of the father of martyr Lt Vijayant Thapar, who appealed to stay united against the hijackers.
Kanchan Gupta in his blog post has also mentioned about a guy called Sanjiv Chibber, a noted surgeon, who wanted all 36 terrorists named by the hijackers to be released immediately. Sanjiv Chibber claimed six of his relatives were among the hostages. He maintained that the government should follow VP Singh’s government type of model. His government had released terrorists from prison in order to secure the freedom of Rubayya Sayeed, daughter of Mufti Mohammed Sayeed. Chibber demanded, “Why can’t you release the terrorists now when our relatives are being held hostage?” Kanchan Gupta further writes, ”And then we heard the familiar refrain: “Give away Kashmir, give them anything they want, we don’t give a damn.”
Later on, the very same guy went on to establish the Naya Daur Party and advised India to be a strong nation. Height of hypocrisy and shamelessness to say the least.
Later this guy opens a political party and advises India to be a strong nation. Check his FB page.
After arm twisting the NDA Govt to release the Terrorists for passengers of IC814, this man now says India can't afford to be soft. pic.twitter.com/iiVXJdClph
— Jeetendra (@jeetu_tweet) February 16, 2019
The government ultimately surrendered under media pressure and mass hysteria. People had put self-interest above national interest and now the nation is paying its price. Since, his release Masood Azhar led terrorist organization Jaish-e-Mohammad has carried out 2001 Parliament attack, the January 2016 Pathankot air base attack, as well as the September 2016 Uri attack, and now Pulwama terror attack.
Thanks to Kanchan Gupta, we know the other side of the story regarding the Kandhar hijacking.