Training its guns on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's trusted security adviser, the Congress on Tuesday cited Ajit Doval's published comments in a 2010 interview in which he justified the release of JeM chief Masood Azhar by asserting that the most-wanted terrorist didn't even know how to make a bomb or shoot straight.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi also ridiculed Doval by saying that he had escorted Azhar -- who was in an Indian jail and released in the IC 814 hijacking episode -- to Kandahar in a "special aircraft" in 1999.
The Congress leader 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.
"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," the Congress chief added.
Azhar and two other terrorists, Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar and Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, were released by the then Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led government in exchange for 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.
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.
The group was responsible for the attack on Indian Parliament on December 13, 2001 in which nine security personnel and officials were killed.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)