A S Dulat’s book: ‘To counter ISI killings, we talked of tit-for-tat… That Geelani still alive is tribute to our liberalism’

That veteran Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani (called father of jihad, ‘Bub Jihad’) is still alive, Dulat writes, is a tribute to “our liberal traditions.”

Written by Muzamil Jaleel | Ahmedabad/gandhinagar/new Delhi | Updated: July 7, 2015 2:02 pm
A S Dulat, Ex RAW chief Dulat, Dulat Kashmir book, Dulat Vajpayee book, A S Dulat’s book, Kashmir — The Vajpayee Years, Dulat book revelations, RAW news, RAW Dulat news, ISI, Hurriyat, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Syed Geelani, Abdul Majid Dar, Abdul Gani Lone, indian express, india news, latest news, top stories Geelani in capital: ‘Whether (Geelani alive) helped Kashmir is debatable…I believe it did.’ (Express Archive)

Former R&AW Chief and New Delhi’s Kashmir pointsperson for more than two decades A S Dulat has put on record that there were “informal” discussions in the security establishment to come up with a “tit-for-tat” policy to kill to counter ISI’s “bumping off” of separatist leaders considered close to New Delhi.

That veteran Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani (called father of jihad, ‘Bub Jihad’) is still alive, Dulat writes, is a tribute to “our liberal traditions.”

READ: A S Dulat’s book ‘Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years’ a best seller in J&K

“There were several times…when we were frustrated with the violence, particularly when we were working out a relationship with someone in Kashmir and that person would get bumped off by the ISI. It happened with too many Kashmiris,” writes Dulat in his book Kashmir, The Vajpayee Years.

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“…Abdul Majid Dar and Abdul Gani Lone. Each time someone was killed by the Pakistanis there was huge frustration and there were discussions, at times, of the need for tit-for-tat policy. But it remained only an informal discussion because no government in Delhi would approve of it.’’

“That the “Bub Jihad” (Geelani) is still alive and kicking despite all the mayhem that he has been responsible for is a tribute to our liberal traditions. Whether or not this helped us in Kashmir is a debatable matter.

I am of the firm belief it did, because as Mufti said, making Geelani a martyr would be counter-productive. Farooq would have been quite happy and willing to roll him down the Jhelum,” writes Dulat.

“That brings up the question that if we didn’t have a tit-for-tat policy to kill, then how did we get people on our side. And the simple answer is: selling peace through a sustained dialogue,’’ he says. “Using money to win people over is perhaps the most effective tool at the disposal of the intelligence officers not just in Kashmir.most agents are paid agents. If in Kashmir, for instance, you find someone who is working for the ISI, you just offer a lot more money than it does. Perhaps he will be afraid of getting killed by the ISI but at the very least you have neutralized him. Corrupting a person by giving money is not only a lot more ethical than killing him, but a lot smarter in the long run. And no one has yet come up with a better way of dealing with Kashmir. Money in Kashmir goes back a long, long way”.

Unlike many of his peers in the intelligence community, this soft-spoken spymaster did actually go beyond the traditional counter insurgency brief and planned and executed serious fissures in Kashmir’s separatist and militant movement. In fact, Dulat’s Kashmir journey coincides with militancy as he was posted to head the IB in Srinagar in 1988 and later headed the IB’s “K group” on his return to Delhi in 1990 before becoming R&AW chief and subsequently joining the Vajpayee PMO as his man on Kashmir.

Dulat admits he couldn’t meet Geelani though. “The only person who remained pro-Pakistan and, therefore, cannot reconcile with the moderate separatists is Geelani,’’ Dulat writes. “.For us, he has been a bad news.”.

“The issue of retaliation came up in the context of harassment of our diplomats in Islamabad. In early 1990 when there was extreme tension in J&K, both MEA and R&AW favoured more aggressive surveillance of Pakistani diplomats in Delhi. But from the counterintelligence viewpoint it would be counterproductive,’’ Dulat says.

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