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Was any protest lodged with Pakistan, asks BJP

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday sought to know whether the Government lodged any protest with Pakistan against its rolein the killing of Border Roads Organisation driver Ramankutty Maniappan in Afghanistan. BJP leader V.K. Malhotra raised the issue in the Lok Sabha during zero hour and cited reports, quoting National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan, that Pakistan had a hand in the killing.

The Government reiterated that Mr. Narayanan was misquoted. This was clarified by Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Monday.

Mr. Malhotra sought to know why Mr. Narayanan did not issue any denial.

"Should we cover up such an incident... why has it not been taken up with Pakistan?" Mr. Malhotra said the Government made no effort to secure the release of Maniappan, whose body was found four days after he was taken hostage.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs B.K. Handique said the Government made all efforts to secure his release. The Indian Embassy immediately got in touch with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. He said the task was difficult because there were many Taliban elements.

"It is wrong to say that nothing was done," Mr. Handique said.

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