Dulat got it wrong?

Kashmir – The Vajpayee Years” by former RAW chief A S Dulat makes an interesting read. It would be unfair to judge it by reading it in one go or landing at a passage in a particular chapter. However, not to read it would be a fatal mistake. It has a major reference to Kashmiri character and sub references to our leaders (Hurriyat and Mainstream), Pakistan, AJK, militancy and militant leadership and to many others with whom we have a direct or indirect interaction as good friends or as part of our work. Some of the references that have surfaced in the book are not only worrying but interesting as well. Therefore, book may be prosaic in many ways, its contents need to be examined without any prejudice. 

As a Kashmiri and one who has left senior positions of gainful employment in the Ministry of Information AJK, Pakistan Red Cross, UNCHR in London and as first Muslim Director of Millan Asian Centre in South London, I have a reason to feel obliged to examine Dulat’s general narrative as much as possible within my competence and in particular have a special reason to disagree with his caricature of Kashmiri character and misquotes in the book. A S Dulat may have caused an offence to decent Indians, Pakistanis, Iranians, Irish  and Kashmiris by his caricature of the Kashmiri character and misquotes about Kashmiris.

Only thing straight in Kashmir are the poplars

Dulat has quoted Brajesh Mishra, saying “Do you know, Dulat, the only thing straight in Kashmir are the poplars?” It has to be considered without any hesitation of belief that the book in principal caricatures the Kashmiri Muslim and not any other community. On that basis it is a racist narrative. If there is anything evil or less human or less honourable it has to be counted against the Kashmiri Muslims.

Unless Dulat is a racist, he should have due regard to the fact that the elders of the Iranian Revolution and founder of Islamic Republic of Iran, were of Kashmiri origin. The maternal grandfather of Ruhollah Khomeini, Syed Ahmad Musavi Hindi was of Kashmiri origin.

The ancestor of Jawaharlal Nehru, Raj Koul migrated to India in the early 18th century and a reference to Indian independence could not be complete without a respectful reference to the struggle of this Kashmiri Pandit. Nehru gave the five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, known in India as the Panchsheel Treaty (from Sanskrit, panch: five, sheel: virtues).  These are  a set of principles to govern relations between states. Their first formal codification in treaty form was in an agreement between China and India in 1954.

Poet Muhammad Iqbal, also known as Allama Iqbal revered in East and West for his vision is from Kashmir. Any offence to a Kashmiri heritage would offend millions living in India, Pakistan and Iran. The leading TV anchor and journalist in Pakistan (of Kashmiri origin) Hamid Mir quoting Munshi Muhammad Din Fauq has confirmed in his text message that the ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore, Tipu Sultan was of Kashmiri origin, from Kashmiri Naik family. His elders had migrated from Kashmir. Hamid Mir is not a racist but takes pride in his Kashmiri heritage.

Dulat seems to have erred as most Indians err in their understanding of Kashmiri character. It was Rameshwar Nath Kao who founded the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) in 1969 and he became its first chief. Kao served as the personal security chief to Prime Minister Nehru and as security adviser to Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. He also founded the Aviation Research Centre (ARC) and the Joint Intelligence Committee.

Gama joke and Brahmin ke aulaad

Dulat may be conditionally trusted for his factual narrative but there is no reason not to highlight his total ignorance about history and Kashmiri character. His narration that “And then there is the joke starring the famous wrestler from Gujranwala, Gama Pahalwan: a Kashmiri had Gama pinned down, but was weeping. When he was asked why he was weeping, he replied: When I get off him, he will thrash me’. This is what Pakistanis think of Kashmiris”.

There is no mercy in correcting a writer and that too if his narrative has no grain of truth in it. It seems that the people (Kashmiris) Dulat has referred in his book as his source of information have either never read their own parental history or had a cheek to go along with a false narrative to please Dulat. Ghulam Mohammed Bhat aka Gama (Rustam e Zaman) was also of Kashmiri origin. The family later migrated to Lahore and there are mixed marriages between Bhat’s and Mir’s in Lahore. Hamid Mir has confirmed that the first lady of Pakistan Begum Kalsum Nawaz belongs to the same (Bhat) family.  Therefore, Dulat’s narration that Gama was pinned down by a Kashmiri is false at core. Gama was himself a Kashmiri and the family continues to take pride in their Kashmiri heritage.

As regards the citation that, “Pakistan does not give two hoots about Kashmir and often filled with contempt for Kashmiris”. He quotes that in “In the 1980s, Pakistani dictator  Zia ul Haq who had devised his ‘thousand cuts’ strategy against India, was trying to rope in the Kashmiris but was unsuccessful; he called them ‘Brahman ke aulaad’ (Kashmiris are originally Nagas descended from Saraswat Brahmins). The term ‘haatho’ (coolie) originates from Pakistani Punjab and in Kashmir became a familiar form of address, somewhat like ‘oye’.

It is a racist statement and it is highly regrettable. I would not dilate on this here and would defer it to some other occasion. Meanwhile there should be others, in particular those Kashmiris who have been quoted as references by Dulat need to explain their position. If they feel uncomfortable in their private talks with their own Kashmiri origin, it is for them to reconcile. However they have no right to use their discomfort with their origin and feel free to mock the people of Kashmir.

Dulat and his informers on Kashmir need to know that Dr. P Graham United Nations Representative on Kashmir in his report submitted at UN Security Council on 17, 30 and 31st January 1952 has described the people of Kashmir as, “They are a people of legend, song and story, associated with snow-capped mountains, beautiful valleys and life giving waters….These people, Moslems, Hindus, Sikhs and Christians, as farmers, craftsmen and artists, small shopkeepers, boatmen, bearers and other workers in areas now on both sides of the cease fire line have, through the centuries, been victims of exploitation and conflict”.

Kashmiri and accession

Dulat like any one from Delhi could not be accepted as an authority in the affairs of Kashmir and any such claim has to be verified. It is incorrect to state that “Kashmir acceded to India like all other princely states except in extraordinary circumstances because of the invasion by Pakistan in October 1947, as a result of which (and the fact that it is the only Muslim-majority state in the Union) it enjoys a special status”.

This version of accession is disputed in the Autonomy Committee Report constituted by the Government on 29 November 1996. According to this report Jammu and Kashmir like any other state has not merged in the Indian union and the provisional accession is in respect of Defence, External Affairs and Communications only. In addition to this Indian Government has pleaded for the sovereign authority of the Jammu and Kashmir Government and has submitted itself before the UN Security Council on the question of this provisional accession for a free and fair vote on it under the supervision of United Nations. UN Security Council Resolution of 30 March 1951 does not accept any such accession and Pakistan has disputed it in January/February 1948 submissions before the UN Security Council.

Dulat has skipped the fact that Pakistan also has a Stand Still Agreement with the Government of Jammu and Kashmir. The August 1947 bilateral agreement between the Government of Kashmir and Government of Pakistan precedes the Indian agreement of October 1947. Under the Stand Still Agreement Pakistan took over the formal control of trade, travel and communication in Jammu and Kashmir. On the contrary bilateral agreement with India was only to send military personnel in supplement of the Kashmir Government to defend the territory and protect life, property and honour of the people. It did not involve any administrative control as in Stand Still Agreement.


Dulat is very humble to admit that he joined Indian service as assistant superintendent of police who entered North Block as IB officer in March 1969 ended up in the PMO. He prides that as former RAW chief he was able to visit Pakistan four times in five years from 1999-2014 and he sets it down to Kashmir.

It is a general air of arrogance in RAW and IB officers who believe that they make the earth revolve round the sun in the Valley. Dulat  is questionably unkind to people and the habitat. His Kashmir interest boils down to finding a chief minister only. It is important that all those who have associated with him privately or in public, need to ask him, why did his wife Paran need to nickname the visiting Kashmiris as ‘Tweedledee and Tweedledum’, ‘Beehive’, ‘Sidekick’, ‘Gingersnaps’, ‘Drone’, ‘Sleepyhead’, ‘Aap ka Bhai’, etc. Why should we blame Dulat? When you fail to defend your Kashmiri heritage, you are nicknamed.


Author is Secretary General- JKCHR, London. He can be reached at:[email protected]

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