While the Congress sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi's apology over  the 'goof-up' by the then NDA government in the case, as claimed by Dulat, the BJP retorted that all decisions at that time were taken at the highest level.

"If the BJP still does not accept that the NDA government was blissfully soft on terror then the people of India will never judge them kindly. The BJP has an ingrained habit of brazening out their own misdeeds, which they are again repeating in this (Narendra) Modi sarkar," Congress spokesperson Tom Vadakkan said.

"The Congress demands that Prime Minister and BJP apologise unconditionally to the nation for having aided, abetted and favoured anti-India elements, terrorists and criminals. They should apologise for having ensured that terrorists were released and flown to safe havens in Pakistan so that they continue to bleed India," he said.

Former RAW chief AS Dulat on Thursday said no clear instructions were given to police on December 24, 1999, when the hijacked Indian Airlines plane landed in Amritsar, because of which the hijackers took the plane to Kandahar in Afghanistan.

"Dulat's revelations are a severe indictment of the then BJP government (led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee) and establishes that self-styled nationalism of the BJP is guided by extension of help to terrorists and criminals on humanitarian grounds," the Congress spokesperson said.

The BJP hit back, saying the decision to release terrorists was taken at the 'highest level' and no question arises of the Prime Minister's apology regarding 2002 riots.

"On Kandahar, consultations were held at the highest level by senior leaders of the National Democratic Alliance," BJP spokesperson MJ Akbar said.

On the Congress' demand for the PM's apology, Akbar said, "It was a national crisis and in the spirit of the Vajpayee government, consultations were held with all the parties. Everybody was kept in the loop. Should those 400-plus Indians have been allowed to die."

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