This Article is From Jul 03, 2015

Handling of Kandahar Hijack Was 'Goofed Up', Says Former RAW Chief A S Dulat

Handling of Kandahar Hijack Was 'Goofed Up', Says Former RAW Chief A S Dulat

File photo: The Indian Arilines plane IC-814 at the Kandahar airport in 1999. (Associated Press)

New Delhi: Former chief of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) A S Dulat has said that the response to the IC-814 hijack in 1999 was "goofed up" as no clear instructions were given to the police when the plane landed in Amritsar due to which the hijackers managed to take it to Kandahar in Afghanistan.

When the hijacking took place on December 24, the Crisis Management Group (CMG) "goofed up" the entire case by not immobilising the plane when it had landed in Amritsar, Mr Dulat said.

"No one was willing to take a decision and in that confusion no instructions were passed on to Punjab Police which had moved in its personnel. They carried on debating and the plane flew off," Mr Dulat said in an interview to Karan Thapar on his India Today TV programme.

Mr Dulat, a member of the Crisis Management Group, said as they agreed to release the three terrorists in exchange for the lives of the 155 passengers and the crew members to end the hijack crisis, he was deputed to talk to Mr Abdullah as two of the terrorists - Mushtaq Latram and Malulana Masood Azhar - were lodged in a jail in Jammu and Kashmir.

"He shouted at me for hours together saying this was a mistake being committed by the Centre. After he ventilated his anger, he stormed off to meet Governor Girish Chander Saxena with an intention to resign. However, the Governor calmed him down and Abdullah eventually accepted the situation and agreed to the release of terrorists," Mr Dulat said.

During the interview, he briefly mentioned his last meeting with the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in which the BJP stalwart had said "woh humare se galti hui thi (it was our mistake)" about the 2002 Gujarat riots.

Dulat, who headed the spy agency till 2000 before he was appointed as Special Advisor in Mr Vajpayee's office on Kashmir issue, says the former prime minister always believed that 2002 riots was a mistake and the grief was "clearly visible" on his face.

Speaking about various issues related to Kashmir, Mr Dulat said Rubayya Sayeed, daughter of current Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, was never the target of militants in 1989.

"It was Saffia, daughter of Abdullah whom they wanted to kidnap. But as Sayeed become the Home Minister in the V P Singh government, they (militants) decided to take her hostage," he said, adding this was told to him by the terrorist who had planned the kidnapping.

Recalling his days as Advisor in the Prime Minister's Office, Mr Dulat, an IPS officer of 1965 batch of Rajasthan cadre, also said that there was a plan to make Mr Abdullah Vice President in early 2002 and Omar Abdullah Chief Minister of the state.

"The offer to make Farooq Abdullah Vice President happened at my residence at a private dinner and it was made on behalf of Vajpayee by Brajesh Mishra. Later, Abdullah told me that both Vajpayee and L K Advani had reconfirmed the offer," he said.

However, Mr Abdullah always had doubts whether the NDA government would fulfil this promise. "I don't trust them. I don't trust Delhi," Mr Dulat quoted Mr Abdullah as saying.

In another disclosure which Mr Dulat has mentioned in his book "Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years", he said that in early 1990s, self-styled Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin had called local Intelligence Bureau chief K M Singh and sought his help in securing a medical seat for his son.

"Singh approached Abdullah, who was the Chief Minister, and the work was done," Mr Dulat said and maintained that these favours are extended always with a hope that they would be converted into a surrender of the militants.

"This is done world over by all the spying agencies," he said.

Speaking about the separatist leadership in Jammu and Kashmir, Mr Dulat said the Mirwaiz Umer Farooq was one such leader who could be roped into the mainstream.

"But he is a scared person and fears for his life," he said.

About the Sayeed-Abdullah relationship, Mr Dulat claimed that Mr Sayeed has a complex about Mr Abdullah.

"He is in awe of him (Abdullah) and sees himself as socially inferior," he said.

About the failed Agra summit, Mr Dulat said that a meeting Mr Advani had with the then Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf the night before, soured the atmosphere.

This is when Mr Advani surprised Mr Musharraf by asking for Dawood Ibrahim. This took Mr Musharraf back and a shadow was cast thereafter on the Agra summit.

"Yaar, hote-hote reh gaya. Ho gaya tha, woh toh," he recalled Mr Mishra telling him after the failure of summit and added that he was "palpably disappointed".

Talking about the role of Brajesh Mishra, Mr Dulat said he "virtually ran the government" during Mr Vajpayee's Prime Ministership.

"Mishra was more powerful than the home minister (Advani). This made for an uncomfortable relationship between Mishra and Advani. Vajpayee readily acquiesced to this power arrangement which made Mishra more powerful," Mr Dulat said.