Jaish-e-Muhammad chief, Maulana Masood Azhar, has alleged that India offered money to the then Taliban government to hand him back when he was released in exchange for the passenger and crew of hijacked Indian Airlines flight IC-814 at Kandahar in 1999, according to The Indian Express. He made this allegation in the obituary of Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor – the former Taliban chief killed in a US drone strike last month – published in Al Qalam Weekly, the JeM’s online publication, under his pen name ‘Saidi’.
According to the report, Azhar said the then External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh made the offer to Mansoor.
Once I had a meeting with Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor at Kandahar airport. I was part of a delegation from Karachi. Mullah sahib made me sit next to him on the sofa. Then he told me that Indian foreign minister Jaswant Singh sat on the same sofa when he brought you to drop you at Kandahar. He said that Jaswant Singh had told him that our prisoners (Azhar, Zargar and Sheikh) would still be in Afghanistan and you arrest them and hand them over to us, hum aap ki hukumat ko malamaal karengey (we will make your government rich).Excerpt from Azhar’s obituary to Mullah Akhtar Mohamamd Mansoor
The chief of India’s Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) at that time, AS Daulat, however, denied that any talk of money was involved.
It is bunkum. Unfortunately, the claim is regarding a conversation between two men that nobody can verify because one is dead and another is in coma.Daulat told The Indian Express
Other diplomats and officers of the R&AW have also come forward to deny Azhar’s allegations, according to the report. Vivek Katju, who was the head of the Pakistan-Afghanistan-Iran desk at the Ministry of External Affairs at the time and was party to the negotiations, said he had “no recollection” of any such discussion. Katju said he was with Jaswant Singh at the time, and no such matter was discussed, the report added.
Azhar also went on to call Mansoor the ‘amir-ul-mumineen’ (leader of the believers) and said that his death was an attack on the Muslim ‘Ummah’ (nation). He also lashed out on the current government in Pakistan, accusing the Pakistani Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, of trying to befriend Pakistan’s “enemies”.