Training its guns on India's NSA, the Congress on Tuesday cited a 2010 interview of Ajit Doval to claim that he blamed the BJP government for JeM chief Masood Azhar's release in the IC-814 hijacking episode while Rahul Gandhi alleged that he "escorted" the terrorist to Kandahar in a special aircraft.
Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala quoted 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 spokesperson said 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, Surjewala added.
The Congress' two-pronged attack against the National Security Advisor came a day after the BJP latched on to Gandhi's reference to the Jaish-e-Mohammad's chief as "Masood Azhar ji". Congress dismissed the criticism, accusing the BJP of deliberately twisting Gandhi's sarcastic comments.
In an address at a rally in Gandhinagar, Gandhi said, "I want to ask who sent Pulwama terror attack perpetrator Masood Azhar to Pakistan from Indian jail?".
"It was the BJP government that put Masood Azhar on a special aircraft, gave him money, and sent him to Kandahar. Narendra Modi ji, your National Security Advisor Ajit Doval went to Kandahar in the aircraft with Masood Azhar as an escort," Gandhi said.
"Tell the people that it was your government that had sent Masood Azhar to Pakistan. Who had caught Masood Azhar? The Congress party had done it, and put him in jail," Gandhi said.
Azhar and two other terrorists, Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar and Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, were released from an Indian prison in 1999 by the then BJP-led government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee in exchange for the passengers held hostage on board IC-814 flight hijacked to Kandahar in Afghanistan.
Then foreign minister Jaswant Singh accompanied Azhar in a special aircraft and Doval, then a top IB official, was in Kandahar as part of India's negotiating team when the terrorists were handed over.
"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'," Surjewala said in a series of tweets.
"Will Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad admit to the anti-national act now," Surjewala said, using the hashtag 'BJP Loves Terrorists'.
He also attached a link of Doval's 2010 interview with the tweets.
"Modi government's NSA, Ajit Doval's 'clean chit certificate' to terrorist, Masood Azhar revealed," he said.
"1. Masood doesn't know how to fabricate an IED.
2. Masood is not a marksman.
3. After releasing Masood, tourism in J&K has gone up by 200%," Surjewala quoted Doval as saying in the interview.
Doval saluted the real "nationalistic policy of Congress-UPA to tackle terror, the Congress spokesperson claimed.
"UPA-Cong came with a categorical policy on hijacking. No concession, no talks," he quoted Doval as saying.
Why did the BJP government not show the same guts, Surjewala asked.
After his release, Azhar formed the Pakistan-based terror group JeM and since then has been involved in terrorist attacks on India.
The group was responsible for the attack on Indian Parliament on December 13, 2001 in which nine security personnel and officials were killed.
On January 2, 2016, a heavily armed group of JeM attacked the Pathankot air base in which seven security personnel were killed.
JeM also carried out the attack on Uri brigade headquarters on September 18, 2016, killing 17 soldiers and injuring 30 others. And the latest is the Pulwama attack.