India funded militants in Kashmir to counter ISI: AS Dulat

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New Delhi: In a startling admission, former chief of India's premier intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) Amarjit Singh Dulat said Indian intelligence agencies over the years often paid militants and separatists along with mainstream politicians and political parties in India-held Kashmir to compete for influence with Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

In an interview with NDTV's high-profile TV anchor Barkha Dutt ahead of the launch of his book, 'Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years', Dulat asked: "So what's wrong? What is there to be so shocked or scandalised by. It's done the world over."

He defended the use of money in India-held Kashmir, saying it was done in the hope of engaging militants and separatists.

"Corrupting someone with money is more ethical and smarter than killing him."

Speaking about his controversial memoir, Dulat divulged that the Indian government had on quite a few occasions paid for air fares, medical treatment and general upkeep of pro-Pakistan separatists like Syed Ali Shah Geelani.

He said India's spies had been in touch with everyone — separatists and militants alike.

Dulat also revealed that he had been in touch with one of India's most wanted terrorists and the leader of Hizbul Mujahideen Syed Salahuddin, who the ex-RAW chief said was ready to leave Pakistan and return to India.

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the two countries gained independence in 1947. Both claim the territory in its entirety.

Although several rebel groups have been fighting Indian forces since 1989 for independence or a merger of the territory with Pakistan, street protests have become the principal mode of opposition to Indian rule. Armed encounters between rebels and government forces occur regularly.

Nuclear-armed neighbours India and Pakistan — bitter and sometimes bloody rivals since gaining independence from Britain in 1947 — have long traded accusations about RAW and ISI fomenting trouble in the vulnerable and unstable region.

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