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Arun Jaitley defends release of terrorists to end Kandahar plane hijack crisis

Tuesday, 18 March 2014 - 8:42pm IST | Agency: PTI

BJP leader Arun Jailtey today defended Vajpayee government's releasing the three most wanted terrorists in return for the safety of passengers of the Indian Airlines plane hijacked to Kandahar in 1999, saying the lives of all Indians were "more precious" than the release of the terrorists.

He said in reply to a question that if NDA returns to power at the Centre its government would definitely ask Pakistan to hand over those accused of the plane hijack.

Jaitley's remarks about the plane hijack came in response to a question at a press confeference here how NDA government would handle national security when it had freed three hardcore terrorists in the plane hijack crisis in 1999. Jaitley said would be no compromise with the national security. 

The plane had been hijacked from Kathmandu and its last take-off point from India was Amritsar. The hijack drama and the plane passenger hostage crisis had lasted for seven days before India freed three militants Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and Maulana Masood Azhar who have since been implicated in other terrorist actions, including September 9/11, kidnap and murder of journalist Daniel Pearl and November 26, 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

Jaitley accused the UPA government of having failed to give good governance and to tackle inflation, unemployment, strengthen national security and indulged in scams including coal blocks allocation, 2G telecom spectrum allocation and chopper purchase deal. 

He claimed Narendra Modi has the capability to lead the nation to give good governance as Modi has vision due to his several years of track record as Chief Minister of Gujarat where he had "brought revolution in industry". Moreover, Modi would give new direction to Indian nation, Jaitley claimed.

The BJP leader said if NDA was voted to power and if the international border with Pakistan is opened, Amritsar would be turned into a trade hub. He said if NDA forms the government at the Centre, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal would enjoy "considerable respect". He claimed the masses of the country want a change of guard as they are "fed up" with the "poor governance" of UPA and voters have made up their mind to ensure NDA forms the next government.


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