Kolkata, March 13: Former Union Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha, who joined the Trinamool Congress here on Saturday, said that during the IC-814 aircraft hijack in 1999, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had offered herself as hostage to bring back the captive passengers.
Addressing mediapersons here, Sinha said, “When the Indian Airlines flight (IC-814) was hijacked by terrorists and taken to Kandahar, Mamata Banerjee during a discussion of the Cabinet had offered to go as a hostage to Kandahar to release the hostages on the flight.”
He said that Banerjee had suggested that some terms and conditions should be made in a way that she will be going to Kandahar to free the hostages.
“She was ready to make the sacrifice,” said Sinha, who had quit the BJP in 2018 and has been vocal critic of the BJP government at the Centre since then.
Sinha also said that Banerjee has been a “fighter” from her early days and she still has the fighting spirit intact.
“I worked with her under Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. She was a fighter then and she still is,” he said.
Banerjee was the Railway Minister when the Kandahar plane hijack happened in 1999. The then NDA government had faced a lot of criticism for releasing arrested terrorists Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and Masood Azhar in exchange of the hostages.
Before joining the Trinamool Congress, Sinha also met Banerjee at her residence.
He joined his new party at the Trinamool Bhawan here in the presence of Trinamool Lok Sabha leader Sudip Bandopadhyay, Rajya Sabha leader Derek O’Brien and state panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee.