Releasing terrorists during Kandahar was painful decision: Yashwant Sinha

April 24th, 2009 - 10:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Mumbai, April 24 (IANS) Stung by the multi-pronged Congress attack on the 1999 Kandahar hijack episode, senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Yashwant Sinha Friday admitted that releasing terrorists during the hostage crisis was “a painful and difficult decision”.
“There was free and fair discussion in the cabinet over the issue. There were no options left for us. We had to choose between two wrongs, we chose the lesser wrong,” Sinha, who was finance minister in the then National Democratic Alliance-led government, told reporters at a press conference here.

According to Sinha, apart from the cabinet meeting, a meeting of the cabinet committee on terrorism was also held.

“(Then) prime minister (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee ran a democratic regime. A consensus did emerge over the serious issue. There was also a consensus in the nation - that the government must bring back the hostages safely. Even the opposition parties had echoed the same,” he added.

Reiterating that it was a “painful decision”, Sinha dared the then opposition over the issue - “Today, if they have the guts, let them say that we should have left 166 passengers to die.”

Comparing the hijack incident with the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, Sinha reasoned why the operation to flush out the terrorists took so long.

“That is because, they (the government and security forces) wanted to minimize civilian casualties. Even during the Kandahar crisis, we wanted our citizens to be safe,” Sinha explained.

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