Thursday March 21, 2019
Home Politics Exchanging te...

Exchanging terrorists for Mufti Mohamed Sayeed’s daughter in 1989 compromised national interest: Farooq Abdullah



New Delhi:  Releasing five terrorists in lieu of Rubaiya Sayeed, daughter of Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohamed Sayeed in 1989 was a grave mistake, said Farooq Abdullah, former J&K chief minister.

Abdullah was speaking at a discussion on the formal release of the book, “Kashmir – The Vajpayee Years” by A S Dulat, former chief of Research and Analysis Wing, on Tuesday.

The book said that five militants had to be released to free Rubaiya Sayeed after she was kidnapped in 1989.

Abdullah added that he was forced into the decision by two union ministers Arif Mohammed Khan and I K Gujral. “The then civil aviation minister Arif Mohammed Khan and External Affairs minister I K Gujral came to meet me in Srinagar and I briefed them about the situation. I made it very clear that we have to fight terrorism. However, they told me that the cabinet has already taken the decision to release the five militants,” recalled Abdullah.

Lashing out at the decision, Abdullah said that the central government had compromised the nation’s interest by releasing the terrorists. “I wouldn’t have released a single terrorist even if the militants had taken hostage of my daughter. I asked the central ministers to give it in writing on behalf of the cabinet. I told them that this is the last nail in the coffin and we will never be able to recover from this,” he added.

Abdullah also came down heavily on the release of three hardcore militants in exchange of 184 passengers of hijacked IC-814 aircraft in 1999, another controversial revelation in the book. Abdullah said that he was adamant in not releasing the terrorists, and he had expressed his reservations to the then Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani as well as External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh. Abdullah said he felt that Advani was being pushed into the decision of releasing the terrorists. “I told them we have to fight our battle against terrorism and we can’t go soft on it,” he said.

When asked whether the government at the centre was at fault in handling the situation, Abdullah said that the aircraft should not have been allowed to leave Indian soil. “Everyone in the government was busy protecting their chair. What I feel strongly is that the aircraft should not have been allowed to leave the Indian soil,” he added. 

On a question on whether ransom was paid to release the passengers, former R&AW chief Dulat said that not a single penny was paid. “Not a rupee, a dollar was paid as ransom” he said. Dulat was posted in J-K as an Intelligence Bureau officer in 1988. Later on, he headed the Research and Analysis Wing, India’s external intelligence agency, and then became adviser to prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, serving in government till 2004.

In another storm raised by the book, it said that the Hizbul Mujahideen and United Jihad Council chief, Syed Salahuddin once contacted the head of India’s Intelligence Bureau (IB) in Srinagar (K M Singh) to ask for a place in a medical college for his son which Farooq, then chief minister, arranged. Commenting on this, Abdullah said: “It was only an effort to bring them back to the mainstream.”

Another controversy which the book raised was that former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2002 promised to make Abdullah the vice-president, but later backtracked. When asked whether he felt cheated by the incident, Abdullah said that one has to move on in life. “I did get hurt but one has to move ahead in life. It’s meaningless to get stuck in life with setbacks,” Abdullah said.

The former J & K chief minister warned that the country needed to wake up to the threat of fundamentalism adding that the central government needed to trust Kashmiris. “They are not your enemies,” he added. The book was mired in controversies much before its release. (IANS)


Next Story

Will ‘She’ become the new Chief Minister?


People are raising questions over the delay of PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti’s oath-taking ceremony as the new Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir.

The National Conference is making fun at the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), demanding to know why it is not resuming its alliance with the BJP, its coalition partner.

Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Mehbooba’s father, died on January 7, and Governor’s Rule was imposed in the state two days later. Mehbooba’s initial refusal to talk politics was attributed to her bereavement.

For the Lok Sabha MP, her father was a political mentor too. But after three weeks, people are wondering if there is something more than shock which is keeping the daughter away from committing herself to governance in the state.

On Wednesday, former chief minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah urged Mehbooba Mufti: “For God’s sake, form the new government in the state or else seek fresh elections.”

The statement was not a well-wisher’s concern but an adversary’s comment on the Devil-and-Deep-Sea situation the PDP president finds herself in after her father’s death.

Mehbooba Mufti made her first official appearance after her father’s death on January 26, at the Bakshi Stadium in Srinagar on the occasion of Republic Day.

The PDP has called a ‘Feedback Meeting’ in Srinagar on January 31 and in Jammu on February 3. These have been called to get the feedback on the 10 months the PDP ruled the state with its Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ally.

The National Conference is enjoying the PDP’s political predicament. Reacting to Omar Abdullah’s jibe, PDP senior leader Naeem Akhtar said:

I don’t want to get involved in what the Abdullahs say. For us, the welfare of the people is more important than getting into power.

Sources claiming to be close to Mehbooba Mufti say she is weighing her political options very seriously.

“She is convinced that the 10-month tenure of her father has left much to be desired on the promises the two ruling parties made to each other and finally to the people,” sources told a news agency.

BJP leaders in Jammu have said that the final call on government formation will have to be taken by the PDP.

“We will respond positively after the PDP makes the move,” said Sat Paul Sharma, the BJP state president.

BJP sources say a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah with Mehbooba Mufti could take place soon.

But the same sources ruled out any fresh assurances on the alliance agenda.

“Since she will take over as chief minister of the state at a crucial time, there could be a meeting between the prime minister and Mehbooba Mufti and also with Amit Shah,” a BJP leader told a News Agency.

The 40-day mourning period for the Mufti family will end around February 15. Optimists say a new government will be in place anytime after that day.

Governor NN Vohra has asked senior officials to move fast in the preparation of the annual budget, which must be passed before March 31.(IANS)