Doval was the Intelligence Bureau chief in 1999.
New Delhi: Training its guns on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s trusted national security adviser (NSA), the Congress on Tuesday cited Ajit Doval’s published comments in a 2010 interview in which he justified the release of JeM chief Masood Azhar by asserting that the most-wanted terrorist didn’t even know how to make a bomb or shoot straight. The party also claimed that Mr Doval had indicted the the then BJP government by calling Azhar’s release a “political decision”. Congress president Rahul Gandhi also ridiculed Mr Doval by saying that he had “escorted” Azhar — who was in an Indian jail and released in the IC-814 hijacking episode — to Kandahar in a “special aircraft” in 1999. Mr Doval was the Intelligence Bureau chief in 1999.
Azhar and two other terrorists were set free by the Vajpayee government in exchange of hostages of the IC-814 Indian Airlines flight hijacked from Kathmandu to Kandahar in December 1999. Azhar later went on to set up the JeM, a Pakistan-based terror outfit that claimed responsibility for the February 14 suicide attack on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama.
An aggressive Mr Gandhi attacked the BJP at a rally in Gandhinagar saying, “Explain to the country, why did you send the person who killed those 40-45 martyrs, on a special plane? Tell
the country why your government sent him to Pakistan.”
“Who had arrested Masood Azhar? Congress party had arrested Masood Azhar, he was kept in jail,” he said.
Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala, in a tweet, said, “Modi government’s NSA, Ajit Doval, ‘spills the beans’ and indicts BJP government in release of terrorist, Masood Azhar. Doval said (in the interview), ‘Releasing Masood Azhar was a political decision’.”
“Will Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad admit to the anti-national act now,” Mr Surjewala said, using the hashtag “BJPLovesTerrorists.
He quoted Mr Doval as saying in an interview to a think-tank that Azhar did know how to fabricate an IED and that he was not a marksman.
The Congress leader said Mr Doval also saluted the real “nationalistic policy” of the Congress-UPA to tackle terror. The Manmohan Singh government came out with a categorical policy on hijacking, stating that there would be no concession and no talks in such cases, Mr Surjewala added.
The Congress’ two-pronged attack against the NSA came a day after the BJP latched on to Mr Gandhi’s reference to the JeM’s chief as “Masood Azhar ji”. The Congress dismissed the criticism, accusing the BJP of deliberately twisting Mr Gandhi’s sarcastic comments.