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"Parties trying to get mileage out of Maniappan issue"

Special Correspondent

Opposition accusation baseless, says Congress MP Jairam Ramesh

NEW DELHI: The Congress on Thursday said that some parties were trying to make political capital out of the killing of Border Roads Organisation (BRO) employee Ramankutty Maniappan in Afghanistan and said that the Governments of both countries did their best to secure his release.

Emphasising that the Taliban was never interested in negotiating his release, the Congress said that the captors had not come up with any demand other than that the BRO should pull out of Afghanistan.

Terming as "baseless" the Opposition's accusation that the Government had not done enough to secure his release or not provided adequate compensation to the family, Congress MP Jairam Ramesh said Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan Rakesh Sood was in touch with President Hamid Karzai and a special task force of Afghan Ministers.

The Indian Mission also got in touch with the U.S. Ambassador in Kabul and the International Security Force stationed there. Informal contacts were also made with Pakistan and three prominent Afghan leaders.

"The aim of the Taliban was never to negotiate, its only condition was withdrawal of Border Roads Organisation... the Taliban was not interested... ," Mr. Ramesh said at the party briefing.

An Indian team was ready to fly to Kabul for negotiations and join the Afghan task force, but the situation never arose, he said.

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