New Delhi: Pathankot terror attack mastermind and Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar has claimed that the Indian government had offered money to Taliban to arrest and hand over him and two others terrorists.
According to Azhar the offer was made after they were exchanged for passengers and crew of the hijacked Indian Airlines flight IC-814 at Kandahar in 1999.
According to a report in the Indian Express, Azhar claimed that the offer was made by former external affairs minister Jaswant Singh to Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, the Taliban chief who was killed in a US drone strike in May 2016.
Azhar made the claims in an obituary of Mansour in the JeM's online mouthpiece.
At the time of hijacking, Mansour was the civil aviation minister of Taliban's Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
"Jaswant Singh had told Mansour that our prisoners would still be in Afghanistan and you arrest them and hand them over to us, hum aap ki hukumat ko malamaal karengey (we will pay a huge amount of money to your regime)," Azgar said.
Quoting Mansur, Azhar wrote: “...'I (Mansur) told him that if you are able to return (to India) safely, even that would be a big thing'.”
As part of the Kandahar swap three terrorists -- Azhar, Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar and Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh -- were released on December 31, 1999. Mansour had received Azhar on the Kandahar airport tarmac and driven him out of the airport in his white Land Cruiser.
But the chief of India's Research and Analysis Wing at the time, AS Dulat, has rejected Azhar's claims and said that "money never came up at all" during that episode, the report said.