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Congress pins 'anti-India' label on BJP

New Delhi, July 3: The Congress today lapped up revelations in a book by former RAW chief A.S. Dulat to bolster its charge that the BJP's nationalist rhetoric was false and that this was reflected in its governance track record.

The Congress highlighted three points from Dulat's book, Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years - the IC-814 hijack to Kandahar, the Gujarat riots and alleged patronage of Hijbul-Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin.

The Congress seized on the book's contents to allege that the BJP had no problems helping "fugitives to terrorists" while using robust nationalism as a hollow slogan.

Congress spokesperson Tom Vadakkan started with a reference to the hijack.

"Dulat recounts in detail how the Crisis Management Group (CMG) in 1999 mishandled the hijack of IC-814. He was a member of the CMG and the head of RAW. He said they lacked focus and leadership and, therefore, were unable to give orders for the (hijacked) plane to be detained in Amritsar. They carried on debating and the plane flew away. He said the CMG goofed and bungled."

Vadakkan then touched on the other two issues, saying "Dulat recounts how on one occasion Syed Salahuddin, the head of the Hizbul Mujahideen, was helped to get a medical college seat for his son".

"He (Dulat) also says that Vajpayee in 2004, after losing the elections, told him (the then RAW chief) that the Gujarat killings of 2002 were a mistake.

"He said Vajpayee's exact words were: ' Woh hamare se galti hui (we made a mistake)'. This by far is the severest and most direct indictment of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi by an insider," Vadakkan said, alluding to Modi's stint as chief minister at the time of the riots.

The Congress has often harped on the Vajpayee government's indecision that allowed the hijacked plane to take off from Amritsar. It repeated that charge today, saying the BJP-led government's bungling led to the plane reaching Kandahar in Afghanistan despite Indian security agencies being capable of carrying out an anti-terror operation.

The Congress also said the BJP's claim that high-level consultations were done before releasing the terrorists in Kandahar, was meaningless as it was for the government to decide strategies.

Vadakkan said: "The government permitted Indian citizens to get killed and wounded by the Taliban; and released dreaded terrorists Maulana Masood Azhar, Mustaq Ahmed Zargar and Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh by escorting them to Kandahar. This was a major incident that helped in spread of terror not only in India but across the world. That incident created a permanent security threat to the country in the shape of 'Jaish-e-Muhammad' that Maulana Masood Azhar founded in Pakistan. These terrorists were among those who engineered the attack on Indian Parliament and Mumbai."

The Congress demanded apologies from the BJP.

"Are these acts not anti-national? Are these acts not anti-India? The BJP and its leadership continue to play this sordid game of chanting nationalism and hurting India's national interests by helping anti-Indian elements. We hope that the revelations of a former RAW chief during their own government would now make them reflect on their numerous blunders and people will be able to see their true colours."


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