On 24th December 1999, Indian Airlines flight IC-814 was hijacked by Pakistani terrorists. After 8 days of suffering 3 dreaded terrorists were released in exchange of 166 hostages. Whenever the BJP talks about the UPA government’s failure in tackling terrorism and internal security, this ghost of Christmas past comes to haunt them.
Again and again the congress sights this incidence to highlight BJP’s failure on internal security plank.I fail to understand, every time the issue of hijack is raised why the BJP is always on back foot?
Yes, it was an intelligence failure. The government was at fault; it could not see it coming and failed in preventing it. But this is where their fault ends. Releasing 3 terrorists for 166 hostages was not a mistake. It was a force-measure; and right thing to do at time when you cannot take military action on foreign soil. When congress accuses BJP of being soft on terror and talk about release of terrorist, it is congress that is at fault for taking 166 Indian lives so casually and not BJP. They say BJP is soft on terrorists because they freed terrorists and didn’t take military action. Just because this time no minister’s daughter was kidnapped, it means they should have taken military action.
In 1989 when four terrorists can be released in exchange of the then home minister’s daughter Rubaiya Mufti [sister of Mehbooba Mufti] then why not 3 terrorists against 166?
When asked about the release of terrorists against her sister in an interview with the Rediff in July 2002 [http://www.rediff.com/news/2002/jul/12inter.htm] Mehbooba Mufti said
“I don’t know why people keep on harping on this year after the incident took place. Only four or five militants who had no criminal records were released in exchange for Rubaiya. On the contrary what did the BJP do? They escorted hardcore militants and took them to Kandahar for the release of passengers of IC 814 in December 1999. Till then they had been saying they would cut the hand that wields the gun. Ironically, the former external affairs minister Jaswant Singh himself took three top terrorists along with him to Kandahar.
The release of four or five militants has not changed the history of Kashmir.”
So what does you suggest? Unlike your father they should have not given up to the terrorist’s demand?
Also the whole propaganda about the then external minister Jaswant Singh himself going to Kandahar makes very little sense. No one would have dared to set foot on Afghani soil back then, especially at time like those. But Mr. Jaswant Singh did; it is more of an achievement than failure. Some on the spot decision might have to be taken; some more talks or anything might have required the presence or consultation of higher authorities. In that case what people there should have done in the absence of a commanding authority? Sending a cabinet minister in a terrorist ruled state is commendable. I wonder how many cabinet ministers will risk their lives for ensuring the job assigned to them is well done, and people reach their home safe and sound.
Nevertheless, these are trivial things; BJP should have not succumbed to the demands of the terrorists and taken some military action even if it meant loss of innocent lives; who cares for them. But in that case same people would have called them murderers.