Jaswant Singh, BJP Minister Who Supervised Kandahar’s Hijack Exchange, Dies

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SRINAGAR: Jaswant Singh, the Vajpayee era foreign minister, died after a prolonged illness. He was 82. Though he has been unwell since 2014, when he had a fall, he remained in hospital since June 2020. He was being treated for Sepsis with Multiorgan Dysfunction Syndrome and effects of Severe Head Injury old (Optd) and died of cardiac arrest.

Jaswant Singh

A former Major rank officer in the army – he resigned in 1965, Jaswant Singh joined politics and made it big. Singh has been the founding members of the BJP. He was very close to Atal Behari Vajpayee. His body is being flown to Jodhpur in Rajasthan for the last rites, reports appearing in media said. He was one of the top BJP leaders who were denied a mandate in 2014 Lok Sabha elections. During his entire political career, he was a member of the Lok Sabha four times and Rajya Sabha five times.

During the Vajpayee era, Singh wore many hats including that of finance minister, defence minister and the external affairs minister. After the BJP lost national polls, Singh became the leader of the opposition in the parliament. However, he was one of the top BJP leaders who were denied a party ticket in the 2014 elections. His expulsion came in wake of his praise to Pakistan founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Soon after, he fell at his home and has been shuttling between home and the hospital.

Singh is being credited for improving the US-India relations after the 1999 nuclear blast that attracted the sanctions. The other major landmark in his political career was that Singh heads the negotiations in December 1999 when an Air India aircraft was hijacked from Nepal to Lahore to Dubai and finally to Kandahar. He personally flew the detainees including Azhar Masood, Mushtaq Ahmad Zaragr and Omar Sheikh from Srinagar and handed them over to the captors in exchange of the planeload full with passengers. Ajit Doval was also part of the flight to Kandahar where the barter took place. This barter was seen as a diplomatic failure and the low point in Singh’s stay in South Block.

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