Officials persuaded me to go to Kandahar: Jaswant | india | Hindustan Times
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Officials persuaded me to go to Kandahar: Jaswant

There is no mention in the excerpts of former external affairs minister's book to show if hijackers were paid ransom.

india Updated: Jul 20, 2006 09:01 IST

Former External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh was not in favour of giving in to the hijackers of IC 814. But he did, changing his position "as the days passed".

He did not want to go to Kandahar. But he did, because of the insistence of his officials.

And, those who took to the streets then demanding the release of the passengers of the hijacked plane demonstrated "undignified and demeaning behaviour … (and succeeded) in shaming India in the eyes of the international community".

PTI on Wednesday released excerpts from Singh's book: A call to honour. It is an eagerly awaited book and charges and countercharges are already flying around -- specially on the question of whether the hijackers were paid off.

Congress's RK Anand and former BJP leader Madan Lal Khurana alleged on Wednesday that the hijackers were paid $200 million. That goes beyond what Singh says in the book, which, is basically that this was the amount demanded. Not paid.

He says the hijackers had demanded "$200 million ransom money, release of 36 proven terrorists, the interred bones of one terrorist at least". There is no mention in the released excerpts of whether the hijackers were paid. Singh has denied they got anything.

The cabinet unanimously decided not to meet the demand. Singh was told to reject the demands and "go and tell the press in appropriate words".

But then the demonstrations started. The excerpts do not say whether the demonstrators were responsible for Singh's change of heart. But he did change his position -- moving away from his initial opposition to a compromise. "…Slowly, as the days passed, I began to change."

Singh would also change his mind about going to Kandahar. He didn’t want to go, he says, but let himself be persuaded by his officials who wanted some one senior enough at the spot. So that decisions could be taken there in Kandahar, instead of waiting for instructions from Delhi.

And when it was all over, on the night of December 31, Singh called his officials home and gave them champagne.