By allowing a peek into the mysterious world of spooks, the former spymaster, A S Dulat, of the Indian intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) has lifted a corner of the veil that hides the lives of the political class and the bureaucracy in this country. Considering that the Official Secrets Act is still sacrosanct in India and the Henderson-Brookes report on the Chinese invasion of 1962 is yet to see the light of the day, any glimpse of the netherworld of ministers and mandarins is welcome.
The exposure is all the more necessary because not many politicians and civil service officials have been taking the risk of spilling the beans, unlike in the West, where they appear to pen their memoirs the moment they retire. Dulat’s revelations, which have been seen as a means of whetting the popular appetite for his forthcoming book Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years, fall in the familiar category of kiss-and-tell accounts. Not surprisingly, even a partisan preview can be of considerable interest as in the case of the disclosure of the how the Kashmiri separatists have been kept in clover by New Delhi, complete with expensive medical treatment. This expose cannot but provide a new perspective to the events in the restive state.
A B Vajpayee government’s suspicion that the Hizbul Mujahideen aided the Peoples Democratic Party’s Mehbooba Mufti during the 2002 elections was behind Vajpayee’s instruction to his staff that the PDP leader should not be anywhere near him during his Srinagar visit in 2003. The fact that the Hizbul and the United Jehad Council chief, Syed Salahuddin, sought the help of the intelligence agencies to secure a seat for the latter’s son in a medical college is no more than another episode in the tale of subterranean give-and-take. What adds colour to these events, which are redolent of a spy thriller, are titbits like the one about Mufti Mohammed Sayeed’s love for whiskey that can remind one of Winston Churchill’s description of the brew as an elixir of life, the ale that is consumed when good fellows get together.