‘PM is lying about INS Viraat incident; check with Bachchan in case of doubt’: Wajahat Habibullah

The retired bureaucrat was the Administrator of Lakshwadeep in 1987-88 and remembers the visit of late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi clearly

‘PM is lying about INS Viraat incident; check with Bachchan in case of doubt’: Wajahat Habibullah

Ashlin Mathew

Yet another lie of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that Rajiv Gandhi had used Indian Navy's aircraft carrier INS Viraat for a vacation to Lakshwadeep is rubbished by the one who should know. Wajahat Habibullah was the Adminstrator of Lakshwadeep and had hosted the then Prime Minister.

Modi had also claimed that Rajiv Gandhi took his in-laws along with him on the vacation on board INS Viraat and employed the navy staff for making his stay comfortable during the island vacation.

Debunking all of this is Wajahat Habibullah, who was the Administrator of Lakshadweep Islands, from August 1987 onwards. Lakshadweep is governed by an administrator appointed by the President of India.

“I left the Prime Minister’s Office in August 1987 and I was in Lakshadweep as the administrator. As the administrator, I had to organise a meeting of the Island Development Authority in Kavaratii, one of the islands of Lakshadweep. The previous meeting had taken place in Andamans in 1986, and now it was the turn of Lakshadweep,” explains Habibullah.

During this visit the former PM also had to inaugurate the Island Development Council. “After its inauguration, the Island Development Council had to hold its first meeting with the Union Cabinet. It was for the setting up of Panchayati Raj institutions on the island. The entire Cabinet had come down, which included Narasimha Rao too. Since all the union ministers were on the island, the INS Viraat was stationed in the waters around for national security. Such things shouldn’t have to be mentioned,” emphasises the former administrator.

“More importantly, none of Rajiv’s friends went on the INS Viraat. As the administrator, I was simply informed about it being in the waters of Lakshadweep. It was there in the waters. Doesn’t the security of all the ministers concern the nation?” asks Habibullah.

The council meeting went on for a couple of days. “After the meeting, Rajiv Gandhi decided to stay on for a couple of days to take a holiday with his family. After the meeting was over, Rajiv’s relatives ie Sonia Gandhi’s sister and her husband, friends, including Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bachchan came to Lakshadweep. None of them even went to Kavaratti. They took the Helicopter services from Kochi to Bangaram, where they were staying at the guesthouse. If anyone has any doubt, they should check with Amitabh Bachchan,” adds Habibullah.

Rajiv Gandhi had introduced the state-owned helicopter company Pawan Hans Helicopters Limited services in February 1987 and these helicopters are also used as feeder service for connecting airline passengers to and from the island. “All those who took the helicopter services paid for it as the administration did not get any bills for it. Neither did we get the bills for their stay at the guest house in Bangaram. Rajiv Gandhi paid for his family and the other paid for theirs,” insists Habibullah.

“The Prime Minister is lying when he made those strange claims. He has got the details wrong. I was the administrator on the island. He can check the records,” emphasises Habibullah.

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