A Spymaster’s Secrets

Former RAW chief Amarjit Singh Dulat’s book,  ‘Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years’ has touched off a political storm in Valley. Nobody had expected an ex-spy chief to reveal details – albeit some of them are being hotly contested – about the mainstream and separatist political principals and the militant leaders in the state. Dulat, as a result, has set the Kashmir street abuzz with rumour and gossip. The book has already become a bestseller with people from every walk of life making a beeline for it, including even those who generally don’t read books. The reason is that the book has generated curiosity around it for the revelations it has made. From Farooq Abdullah who had been promised appointment as India’s Vice President through Mufti Muhammad Sayeed to Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Hizbul Mujahideen supremo Syed Salahuddin, the former RAW chief has some disclosures about all.  The general sense that comes across is that everything is on sale in Kashmir. With some “honourable exceptions”, most responsible people across the militant-separatist divide seem to have taken money. This has raised serious doubts about the political integrity and the commitment of the people who champion various causes in the state. More so, when thousands of people have died fighting for these causes. But then should we take a former spymaster’s revelations on their face value? More so, when some of these disclosures lack factual accuracy. For example, take the assertion that the Government arranged admission in MBBS for Salahuddin’s son. This is not true. He had been selected on merit. The only favour  – not exactly a favour – was his transfer from a Jammu college where he faced threats to Government Medical College, Srinagar. Salahuddin has thus rightly termed the charges as a “Himalayan lie”. However, for Kashmiris, the real significance of the book is not in the revelations about some people, it is about how New Delhi deals with Kashmir. It is about how the dirty games of the spooks serve as the centre’s policy on Kashmir. Such arbitrary and sometimes wilful re-imagination of their defined roles in Kashmir by various agencies is barely questioned – couched as it is under the rubric of the battle to save Kashmir for India. The revelations have thus confronted the democracy in the state with its biggest crisis: the crisis of credibility. It has underlined that all we have in the name of otherwise glorified democracy is a facade – a rule in disguise by the security establishment. Or at best a democracy which has seriously compromised itself. 

Even though people elect the leaders – in recent years through an overwhelmingly participated polls – the leaders have to represent what New Delhi wants from them. Similarly, according to Dulat, the separatists have never been engaged by New Delhi with a purpose to resolve the lingering political conflict in the state. The centre has always sought to co-opt them, as in case of Shabir Shah, who was sought to be made the Chief Minister in 1996 but to his credit has not leapt to the bait. One benefit of the book is that it has made people more informed about the centre’s dealings with Kashmir. This book is therefore for everybody; for people in Kashmir, for the Kashmiri leaders and the sundry political and militant groups and also for New Delhi which needs to introspect that this adhoc handling of Kashmir has only drifted Kashmir further away from India. This book is therefore also for the prime minister Narendra Modi. The biggest take-away from what has been revealed is that New Delhi needs to grow up on Kashmir and get real.

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