As the 1999 Kandahar hijack drama continued to hound the BJP, the saffron party's prime ministerial nominee LK Advani has said he had no idea that the then Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh was accompanying the terrorists on the flight to the Afghan town.
The BJP-led NDA government had to release three terrorists in return for the safety of the 160-odd Indian Airlines passengers held hostage on board the IC 814 airplane in December 1999. Jaswant Singh had accompanied the three terrorists inclauding Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Mohammad Azhar.
Advani, who was the Home Minister during the Kandahar crisis, said the decision was taken in consultation with Vajpayee. Asked by NDTV in its Walk the Talk programme whether going on plane was his (Jaswant Singh) own decision, Advani said, "I wouldn't say it I would know that. He must have consulted Vajpayeeji, but it was not an issue at all and this issue was also raised by many others many months later." Advani's comments appear to indicate that he was against Jaswant Singh going to Kandahar.
Q) But in this country, would an External Affairs Minister himself escort militants?
Advani: He was not escorting, he was trying to bring back the passengers. But I don't think that I am answerable for that, if the security committee on security had taken a decision.
Q) You were not consulted on this?
Advani: I don't know about it.
Q) So when did you get to know he went on the plane?
Advani: I came to know when he was going.
Advani had recently indicated that he was for action against the Kandahar hijackers.