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BJP govt freed Masud Azhar and Daniel Pearl killer: Congress

BJP govt freed Masud Azhar and Daniel Pearl killer: Congress

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) got an earful from the opposition Congress party on Friday, which reminded the ruling party of how they freed Masud Azhar and how he went on to set up Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM).

Delhi accuses JeM of staging spectacular cross-border attacks, including recently in Pathankot and Uri.

Senior lawyer and former Congress minister Kapil Sibal was pointing to a hostage swap that a previous BJP government carried out in December 1999. The controversial exchange happened in Kandahar after the hijack of an Indian Airlines plane from Kathmandu, which landed in Amrtisar and soon took off for Afghanistan.

Together with Masud Azhar, Syed Omar Sheikh was one of the prisoners India freed in exchange for the hostages, a deal in which the current National Security Adviser Ajit Doval took a lead part. Sheikh later staged the murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl.




As the war of words intensified between the opposition and Mr Modi’s party over the disputed claim of surgical strikes by Indian troops in Azad Kashmir, Mr Sibal asked the BJP not to politicise the campaign by the army.

Reports said he took a potshot at BJP president Amit Shah over court cases against him.

“Those who have murder cases against them, have been to jail, are in no position to question Rahul Gandhi,” said Mr Sibal in a reference to Mr Shah’s criticism of the Congress scion.

The lawyer’s statement is part of a continuation of the war of words between the two national parties over the army’s surgical strikes, reports said.

Earlier, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had praised Mr Modi for ordering the strikes but he also asked the government to respond to Pakistan’s denial of any such event, with proof. Mr Kejriwal is being denounced as anti-national.

Mr Sibal said relations between India and Pakistan wouldn’t have been so strained if the BJP during its time in the government hadn’t released Jaish founder Masud Azhar. “Who created JeM? BJP did,” he said.

On Thursday, Mr Gandhi said Prime Minister Modi was ‘hiding behind the blood of jawans’ and doing ‘dalali’ (cashing in) on their sacrifice.

Mr Sibal said the government is undermining the valour of the armed forces by giving PM Modi all credit.

“Stop putting up these posters claiming credit, it was the army that should be hailed, so stop this politics,” he said.

Mr Sibal further said that the BJP president’s comment claiming he doesn’t agree with taking political mileage from the army’s campaign seemed absurd against his other comment that the BJP would “take the success of the country’s army to the people”.

Mr Sibal also gave a detailed account of all the previous instances when he said the security forces had crossed the Line of Control to defend the nation. “India’s history doesn’t start from 2014,” he said. It was a response to Mr Shah’s claim that the Indian army had crossed the LoC for the first time.

Published in Dawn October 8th, 2016

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