'Mamata wanted to be taken hostage': Yashwant Sinha's claim on IC 814 hijack
Soon after Yashwant Sinha joined the Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Saturday, he claimed that West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee ‘offered to be taken hostage in exchange for passengers’ of an Indian Airlines flight hijacked in 1999.
Indian Airlines Flight 814, commonly known as IC 814, was hijacked on December 24, 1999, minutes after it left Nepal’s capital city of Kathmandu for Delhi. India had to release three terrorists, including Masood Azhar, who now heads the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), to ensure the hostages’ release, with the crisis coming to an end on December 31.
The former leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Sinha was the Union finance minister at the time under Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
“She has been a fighter right from the start. I’d like to tell all of you that when Indian Airlines flight was hijacked and taken by the hijackers to Kandahar in Afghanistan, we were having a cabinet meeting during which Mamata ji proposed that she would go as a hostage but the condition would be that the terrorists should let other passengers go,” Sinha said on Saturday.
“She would be taken into their custody and make whatever sacrifice possible for the country,” the former BJP leader, now a fierce critic of the party and the central government, added.
Sinha, who resigned from the BJP in 2018 amid differences with the party’s leadership, described the alleged attack on Banerjee as a ‘tipping point’ in his decision to join the TMC. Hours after the ‘attack,’ Sinha had lashed out at the BJP, saying that instead of sympathising with her, the party was mocking her.
Sinha’s induction into the TMC comes after several TMC leaders, including Suvendu Adhikari, joined the BJP. Adhikari, Banerjee's former aide, will be up against her from the Nandigram assembly constituency in the eight-phased West Bengal assembly elections, which will be held between March 27-April 29. Counting of votes and declaration of results is scheduled to take place on May 2.