Hindustan Times (Jalandhar)

‘Advani didn’t want to release terrorists for IC-814 hostages’

- HT Correspond­ent letters@hindustant­imes.com

NEW DELHI: Former home minister LK Advani did not want to free terrorists to secure release of the IC- 814 hostages but appeared to have been pushed into agreeing, former chief minister Farooq Abdullah who had opposed the decision said on Tuesday.

Abdullah, who repeatedly stressed on the need for New Delhi to start trusting Kashmiris at a book release function, said the decision to release terrorists for IC-814 hostages in 1999 and then home minister Mufti Mohd Sayeed’s daughter Rubaiya Sayeed in 1989 was taken by the Centre and thrust on the J&K govern- ment. Both incidents contribute­d a spike in militancy.

Abdullah brushed aside arguments that the Vajpayee government was trying to safeguard the lives of the hostages, insisting that the country had to be ready to pay the price for fighting terrorism. Recalling his conversati­on with home minister LK Advani, Abdullah said he think Advani had been against the release. Abdullah, who was speaking at a panel discussion on the formal release of the book, ‘Kashmir The Vajpayee Years’ by AKS Dulat and Aditya Sinha, cited the Armed Forces Special Powers Act that gives the armed forces power to kill anyone as one instance of the Centre not trusting Kashmiris.

Abdullah recalled how an army officer had once ordered his troops to shoot his son, Omar Abdullah, on the Jammu-Srinagar highway after his vehicle overtook an army convoy. He did not elaborate. He cited a second instance where a man was killed in cold blood by the army but never prosecuted due to AFSPA

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