The book by former Chief of the Research and Analysis Wing, A S Dulat titled Kashmir-The Vajpayee Years has made some startling revelations. The question however is were some of the disclosures necessary. His former colleagues feel that certain disclosures relating to operations in Kashmir could have been avoided.
V Balachandran, former R&AW officer, feels that Dulat may finally be remembered as a R&AW chief who wrote a controversial book and his great contribution towards Kashmir dialogue may be forgotten.
Balachandran discusses the book and its revelations while pointing out that it is not clear why Dulat had gone ahead with his revelations on the ongoing intelligence operations.
Diversion with gossip:
Balachandran points out that it is not entirely clear why Vajyapee's Kashmir policy was mixed with revelations relating to the ongoing intelligence operations. He was the trusted man in Kashmir for the union government. It is only fair to mention that his knowledge and expertise on Kashmir cannot be equaled by anyone else.
The former R&AW officer also points out that the book should have been based entirely on his work in Kashmir. Instead there are details about Mufti Mohammad Sayeed's preference for alcohol.
He knew that his statement that Kashmir militants were on the take or that Hizb-ul-Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin had requested the IB for his son's admission in a professional college would be challenged by all concerned including the government.
While it is a known fact intelligence officials maintain secret contacts, the question is do we gain anything by exposing these relationships especially at a time when we are dealing with militants.
The problem with sensational disclosures on secret subjects by retired spymasters is that they are not in a position to cite documentary evidence to back their claims. Other countries follow a policy of disclosures of even sensitive national security files after a lapse of time. We have no such practice.
Can disclosures be backed with documentary evidence?
Normally when such disclosures are made affected parties tend to dispute it. These controversies affect the credibility of such books even if they are written by very senior officers.
In 2007, B Raman, my friend and former colleague, published ‘Kaoboys of RAW' with similar sensational disclosures. He said that the then Nepalese king had invited Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to shift to his country after her 1977 electoral defeat. But she rejected it on the advice of R N Kao.
Since some of those claims were within my personal knowledge, I wrote a column on September 5, 2007, in a national daily putting the record straight on at least six such claims. I also knew that Indira Gandhi never consulted Kao during the period immediately after her defeat.
Dulat criticises the Vajpayee government's handling of the IC-814 hijacking at different stages including the release of terrorists. He should not have done that, having been part of the inner core policy-making team of that era. Also Vajpayee had the sole priority over the safety of 178 passengers.
There was no guarantee that the Punjab commandos who had no experience of storming an aircraft would have done that job without loss of lives.
Declassified documents indicate that even Israel had initially thought of releasing 53 prisoners in 1976 under public pressure as the Entebbe hijackers had demanded. In 2011 they released 1,027 Hamas terrorist prisoners for one Israeli soldier.