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Saturday, Dec 04, 2021
Outlook.com
Opinion

Dressing Up Defeat

The contrast between the negotiators’ cowardice and the hijackers’ daring has earned India the contempt of the world.

Dressing Up Defeat
Dressing Up Defeat
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

If you have the courage to accept that you have been soundly beaten in a battle, you can at least go on to plan a fitting response in the war. But if you insist on presenting a defeat as a victory, however Pyrrhic you are willing to concede it to be, then you rule out even the option of turning the defeat into a later victory. That is what the Vajpayee government is doing today. One refrain keeps creeping out of the mewling of government spokesmen in the aftermath of Kandahar: "We only had to give up three prisoners. It was the best bargain we could strike. The hijackers were threatening to take the plane up in the air and blow it up. They had RDX in the baggage hold. We simply could not take a chance with 160 lives. We are a democracy. Peoples’ lives matter."

This excuse highlights both the government’s lack of nerve and the absence of even an elementary knowledge of psychology in the so-called crisis management and hostage negotiating teams. IC 814 would not have been blown up in the air because blowing the plane up would have killed not only the passengers but also the hijackers. Did either of these august sounding bodies consult a single psychologist to assess how seriously to take this threat? Did they ask a single person who had dealt with hostage negotiations in the past to come on board for the negotiations? Did they ask the FBI, the British police or Israeli intelligence, who have extensive experience of kidnapping and hostage recovery operations, for advice on how to deal with the hijackers? Did they have any statistics on past hijackings and kidnappings? Did they have a tally of how many ended in the suicide of the hijacker? Did they have a tally of how many times a group of hijackers, especially a group as large as this one, had collectively committed suicide? When all of this data could have been had from any one of the above sources in as little as half an hour, what right had the crisis management team and Jaswant Singh to humiliate an entire nation, demoralise its hard-pressed security forces and give an enormous psychological boost to the enemies of India without doing their elementary homework?

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