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December 31, 1999
Best possible settlement, says Brajesh Mishra
Brajesh Mishra, principal secretary to the prime minister, on Friday fully justified the government's decision to hand over three dreaded militants to the hijackers in exchange for 155 hostages abroad the Indian Airlines plane, stating "this is the best settlement we could have achieved"
No other concession, except the release of the three militants, has been given by the government to end the eight-day-old hostage crisis, Mishra told Doordarshan.
He said the government's negotiating team has been able to bring down the demand of the hijackers from the release of 36 militants to three during several rounds of marathon negotiations.
Mishra said the hijackers had earlier demanded 200 million dollars, the body of Sajjad Afghani and release of 36 militants, who were lodged in various jails of the country.
After several rounds of talks, the hijackers dropped the demand of 200 million dollars and the body of Afghani but insisted on the release of 36 militants.
He said the agreement for the release of the militants was reached by the negotiators with the hijackers and the Taleban authorities. Asked what would happen to the hijackers, Mishra said, "It is for the Taleban to decide about their fate"
"The Taleban will deal with them in whatever manner it considers." Taleban foreign minister Abdul Wakil Muttawakil has already stated that the Taleban does not want the hijackers to stay in Afghanistan.
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