The former National Security Advisor, Brajesh Mishra, on Thursday said former Home Minister L.K. Advani was part of the National Democratic Alliance government's decision to release three terrorists, and to send the then External Affairs Minister, Jaswant Singh, to Kandahar to secure the release of the hostages.

The decision was taken by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) which has five members Prime Minister, Home Minister, Finance Minister, External Affairs Minister and Defence Minister.

....once those demands were whittled down to three terrorists and no money and no interred remains (of some terrorist), then there was a unanimous decision of the CCS that in order to save the lives of 160 plus hostages and the aircraft crew, it made sense to release these three terrorists and get the hostages back, Mr. Mishra said in an interview with Karan Thapar on CNN-IBN.

When asked if it was a unanimous decision, he replied, Of course.

Mr. Mishra, who was considered close to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, said Mr. Advani was also aware of the decision to send External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh to Kandahar to secure the release of hostages.

“Again the CCS met and Mr. Jaswant Singh proposed that he would go to Kandahar to bring back the hostages and he explained that the Indian representatives who were negotiating in Kandahar — diplomats, IB, RAW — had suggested that somebody should be there to take care of any last minute complications. This he informed the CCS and they agreed to send (him),” Mr. Mishra said.

When asked again if this was an unanimous decision, Mr. Mishra replied in the affirmative.

On whether Mr. Advani was a party to the decision, he said “Yes”.

“Three members of CCS, George Fernandes (then defence minister), Jaswant Singh and Yashwant Sinha (Finance Minister) have already said this,” Mr. Mishra added. The former NSA clarified that initially no one was in favour of any concession while dealing with the hijackers.

“To begin with, they wanted the release of 36 terrorists. They wanted $ 200 million. And they wanted the interred remains of some terrorist. Nobody was prepared to accept this. Each and every member (of CCS) was opposed to agreeing to those demands,” he said.

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