After meeting a delegation of Kashmiri Pandits one evening, then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee fell into a pensive mood. “After a while he rose up, saying, ‘Harey Ram Harey Ram! Is desh ka kya hoga?’ (What will happen to this country?) His eyes were moist, and I sensed a heaviness in his voice.”
The evening has been described in a new book, “With Four Prime Ministers: My PMO Journey” by Jarnail Singh, former joint secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office. “He too seemed helpless to provide any solution to ease the pain of the Kashmiri Pandits,” adds Singh who has served under four Prime Ministers — H D Deve Gowda, I K Gujral, Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh.
In the book, published by Konark Publishers, Singh also writes that the RSS could not exert much influence on the functioning of the PMO under Vajpayee. “The Vajpayee tenure was same as it was during Deve Goda and Gujral periods. In fact, during the Vajpayee period, decision-making was much quicker and firm,” the book states. Singh adds that he never “noticed any attempt being made” by RSS to meet the Prime Minister regularly.
Singh’s book says the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) failed to alert the Centre about the presence of “so many Pakistan army personnel and terrorists, so deep in Indian territory for such a long period”, leading to the Kargil war.
Singh clarifies that in its reports to PMO, R&AW had not mentioned any intrusions in Kargil. He said neither R&AW nor Intelligence Bureau was aware of the deep intrusion. “…It was the failure of RAW as an organisation and of its top officials. Surprisingly nobody was punished for the serious lapses in which about 527 soldiers sacrificed their lives and a number of others were wounded,” he said.
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