India’s failure in Kashmir

The book reveals all too clearly how in Jammu and Kashmir the intelligence agencies subverted the democratic process with intrigue and the electoral process with bribery, and debased the quality of political life.

Published : Jul 22, 2015 12:30 IST

THIS book reveals all too clearly that India will continue to rig elections to the Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir for as long as the Kashmir dispute is not settled with Pakistan with the consent of the people of the State. Until then, it will arrange matters to ensure two things. First, that no one occupies the office of Chief Minister without its approval. The second is commonly overlooked in the entire discourse, namely, that no Legislative Assembly that is likely to cross the well-known red lines set by New Delhi, ever since 1951, gets elected.

The book is a record of the doings of an intelligence man. The game has undergone a radical change. It began as an exercise in collecting intelligence, graduated to conducting covert operations and offered a doctorate to its officials who were assigned to conduct diplomacy. Rajiv Gandhi sent the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) Director to Sri Lanka to parley with President J.R. Jayawardene behind the back of High Commissioner J.N. Dixit. It became “a political factor directly influencing policy in Sri Lanka since 1990”. The operatives became self-important, set their own agenda, developed personal interests and personal attachments—and lost objectivity. In Kashmir and in north-eastern India, the Intelligence Bureau (I.B.) and RAW went much further. They subverted the democratic process with intrigue, the electoral process with bribery, and debased the quality of political life.

The author describes their role in Kashmir with great gusto and bravado and thus reveals authoritatively the modus operandi by which the Centre keeps a tight grip on the direction of Kashmir’s politics. In doing so, he has exposed those unionists and separatists who were ready and willing to sell their souls and their people’s rights and interests for thirty pieces of silver.

Amarjit Singh Dulat joined the Indian Police Service (IPS) in 1965 and was deputed to the I.B. He was posted to Kashmir in May 1988. At the I.B., he headed its Kashmir Operations Group during the militancy in December 1990. He rose to be the head of RAW and joined the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) during the A.B. Vajpayee regime in December 2000. He quit in 2004. His initial remit was “to keep Farooq Abdullah in good humour”.

Dulat freely writes of his interlocutors’ ego and of his own skill in, to use his favourite word, “massaging” it. “The fact is that anybody who is somebody in Kashmir has a big ego. And at that point Shabir (Shah) was the headmaster to the rest of the militants.” Were things different in Dulat’s Punjab? If his own ego is of massive proportions, as it indeed is, he can be pardoned. All massaged his ego. “At a dinner some years back I was telling the host how M.K. Narayanan, former Director of the Intelligence Bureau and subsequently National Security Adviser in the first term of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, had got me stuck in Kashmir when he passed by. He turned and said: ‘Are you complaining? Do you realise that you became whatever you did only because of Kashmir?’ True.”

Once the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) lost power, “I was made the villain of the NDA’s Kashmir policy by several who thought I was throwing around money too freely, bribing my way through Kashmir. People in the I.B., my former organisation, and higher-ups apparently told Kashmiris, ‘Dulat has spoilt you.’ Maybe. But for more than the last ten years since I left the government, Kashmir leaders, including separatists, still visit me regularly when I have little more to offer than tea and sympathy.”

He carefully reproduces Mani Shankar Aiyar’s compliment, “What a useful life you’ve led, and what a useless life I’ve led.” The book ends with Agha Ashraf Ali’s meaningful compliment when they met in May 2014: “You were sent to disrupt the (Kashmir) movement… in the friendliest possible manner.” The suspension marks leave the reader free to guess what the missing words were. The book provides the clues. That thanks are generously given to certain persons tells us a lot: “My friend, philosopher and guide who helped keep the flock intact during most trying times, Prof. Abdul Ghani Bhat; manager Ghulam Hassan Mir, who was a storehouse of knowledge but also simplified my understanding of Kashmir; the kind, gentle and underestimated Firdous Syed; the more mercurial Sajad Lone, not only TV anchor Barkha Dutt’s favourite but mine also; the macho Hashim Qureshi, ever ready to take on both adversaries in Kashmir and even those across; Altaf, a businessman to his political fingers; Zafar (Meraj), who everyone always thought was on the wrong side; Nadir, my ready reckoner; Prof. Riyaz Punjabi, who gave me my first lesson on Kashmir.”

Things went to his head. “You’re like my brother,” Farooq Abdullah told Dulat. Can you imagine his father, Sheikh Abdullah, or, for that matter, any other Chief Minister with any self-respect cultivating an intelligence man thus? Abdul Ghani Bhat asked Dulat, on the eve of his first meeting with L.K. Advani, the Deputy Prime Minister, on January 22, 2004, “ Humara pajama to nahin utarvaoge !” (You will not have our pajamas removed, will you?). One would have that the apparel’s stability around Bhat’s waist depended on his own stature, not on Dulat’s goodwill.

Again, “Farooq and I had a relationship that whenever he had a problem, he would turn to me.” Dulat lauds Farooq Abdullah for being “the first Chief Minister to adopt” the Prevention of Terrorism Act, or POTA. “Farooq made the introduction to hijacker Hashim Qureshi; … Farooq came through with a favour for Syed Salahuddin, the Pakistan-based Hizbul Mujahideen preacher who has for long wanted to come back to India; and he introduced to the Rashtriya Rifles a rural folk-singer named Kuka Parrey, who went on to lead a force of counter-insurgents, the Ikhwan-ul Muslimoon, which was one of the army’s successes .” Under the protection of the Rashtriya Rifles, Kuka Parrey and his Ikhwan let loose a campaign of abductions, rape, extortions and systematic killings of any they cared to pick on. It was state-sponsored terrorism (Vide “India’s Secret Army in Kashmir: New Patterns of Abuse Emerge in the Conflict”, a Human Rights Watch Report published in May 1996). On August 11, 1996, Farooq Abdullah publicly thanked those very renegades of the Ikhwan for helping him to come to power—“had given us the privilege to go before the people. Now I am proud of them.” If “Farooq is the tallest and most meaningful leader” to Dulat, his book explains why (emphasis added, throughout). His admiration is reserved for the clever. The author’s partisanship is pathetic. Atal Bihari Vajpayee “modelled himself on Nehru and had the vision, time and inclination to devote himself to Kashmir”. Dulat watched his hero “evolve a grand plan with an enlightened strategy on cutting that Gordian knot”. It remained his best kept secret.

On June 26, 1990, the Kashmir Assembly passed a resolution recording its acceptance of the moderate report of the State Autonomy Committee and requesting the Centre to set up a Ministerial Committee “in order to initiate a dialogue on the Report”. On July 4, the Union Cabinet took the unusual course of adopting and publishing a long seven-paragraph resolution brusquely rejecting the Assembly’s resolution (See The Hindu , July 5, 2000, for the text).

Agra Declaration

The draft Agra Declaration of July 16, 2001, did not settle Kashmir but merely elaborated on the Joint Statement of 1997 on a composite dialogue and laid down a process for tackling all issues. Paragraph 1 was revised by the Foreign Ministers in their own hand. Jaswant Singh promised to get back to Abdul Sattar soon. He never did. Dulat gets everything wrong; the dates and much else. Crucially, Pervez Musharraf did not leave “in a huff without even stopping at Ajmer Sharif to visit the dargah as he had planned”. Books bore him; so does the record. He enjoys oral encounters.

Advani did not expect the conference to go beyond an exchange of views, a sizing up of Musharraf. When it did, he wrecked the agreed accord. The Declaration would have raised Vajpayee’s standing internationally and at home. Advani was seen agitatedly pacing up and down when the drafting was in process. Vajpayee revealed in the Lok Sabha on August 16 that Advani “had got worried when his one-to-one meeting with Musharraf went on for an unusually long time”. He disclosed how Advani sent a man inside to “find out” what was afoot. This is utterly unheard of. Jaswant Singh was treated as badly with intrusions and phone calls to his officials over his head. Advani was out to abort the Agra Declaration.

A diminished Vajpayee emerged from the summit. After Agra, he and Jaswant Singh took turns holding Musharraf to cheap ridicule for a whole fortnight from July 28 to August 10. Sample these gems of the “poet’s” refinement: “You didn’t see Musharraf’s face when he was leaving. I did. He had a long face. … I didn’t even give him a photo-opportunity” (That is, did not escort him out as civility requires).

Vajpayee in his true colours

He was denied facilities for holding a press conference in Agra. When he did speak at Islamabad, he complained, with obvious hurt, that he was never invited to stay on which Vajpayee could well have done—stay on, visit Ajmer Sharif tomorrow, and let us meet at lunch. This would have given him ample time to persuade Advani to relent.

The same trait in a weak man manifested itself after the Gujarat pogrom. It was only on April 4, 2002, that Vajpayee went to Ahmedabad, five weeks after the killings happened. Rhetoric never fails him. “ Rajdharm ka palan kare” (uphold the ethics of governance), he famously said, having failed to follow the maxim himself as Prime Minister. He first visited the burnt carriage at Godhra as if it was a place of pilgrimage. It was to highlight the thesis of cause and effect, which he advocated along with Narendra Modi.

Just a week later, at the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) National Executive meeting in Goa on April 12, Vajpayee revealed himself in his true colours, for all time. On April 12, he defended Modi, the man responsible for the carnage that had engulfed Gujarat since February 28 while a lakh of Muslims still lay forlorn in relief camps.

Vajpayee said, first, “What happened after the Godhra incident is reprehensible, but the issue is, who started it?” This was communal linkage in its grossest form. Not the identified individual criminals of Godhra, but the Muslim community “started it” and bore responsibility for what it had suffered.

Secondly, the Muslim community was condemned en bloc globally. “Wherever there are Muslims, they do not want to live with others. Instead of living peacefully, they want to preach and propagate their religion by creating fear and terror in the minds of others.” There were problems even in Indonesia and Malaysia, which have large Muslim populations. “Islamic fundamentalists are spreading terror and intimidation. This is [the] opposite [of] the culture of Hinduism.”

Arrests of Al Qaeda activists in Singapore inspired Vajpayee to say: “Wherever Muslims live in large numbers, the rulers apprehend that Islam could take an aggressive turn.”

Thirdly, “we” are different from and superior to the “later arrivals”; “we were secular even in the early days when Muslims and Christians were not here. We have allowed them to do their prayers and follow their religion.” Have you ever heard of a Prime Minister denouncing a people who belong to a different faith and that after they had suffered a massacre which he never denounced? And they were “ allowed ” to practise their faith.

A Vajpayee in earnest would not have nominated an R.K. Mishra as his negotiator with a professional diplomat Niaz Naik of Pakistan. Mishra was a fixer. Concretely what could or would have Dulat’s principals offered in the dialogue with Pakistan or the separatists?

Dulat aspired to build “relationships with people who had lost faith in India”. He met ones of little standing among the alienated. Whatever could his bosses who rejected the Autonomy Resolution and Agra Declaration concede them? Nothing, Vajpayee’s chosen interlocutor. On July 22, 2002, Arun Jaitley’s mandate was to offer devolution of power, inherently revocable.

It is a foolish notion that dialogue alone can bring results. It depends on three factors—a will to compromise; a meeting ground; and capability to deliver, to push the deal through. Let alone Advani, even Vajpayee could not fulfil these conditions. Whatever prevented Vajpayee from inviting Musharraf, when he called on Vajpayee, to stay on, visit Ajmer Sharif the next morning and meet at lunch? He could have used the relaxation to push the declaration through.

The rubbish about “ insaniyat ke daire mein ” (within the framework of humanity), which some imagined went beyond Article 370, and the offer of dialogue made at a public rally in Srinagar on April 18, 2003, (after the massacres), over which Dulat goes into ecstasies, were not spontaneous offers. India and Pakistan faithfully followed the script which their Uncle (Sam) had written in toto with his British stooge. After diplomatic intercessions it was published in a Joint Statement by their Foreign Ministers, after their bosses had met at Camp David. It urged respect for the Line of Control (LoC), a ceasefire and “active steps to reduce tension, including moves within the SAARC [South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation] context”. Sure enough, a ceasefire followed and Vajpayee went to Islamabad to attend the SAARC summit in January 2004.

Dulat is surprised at Vajpayee’s opposition to Manmohan Singh’s peace moves and tries to downplay it. The text of Vajpayee’s protests of June 16, 2005, reveals the man. He was no statesman but a slippery politician. But, were the Hurriyat leaders who met Advani, Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh themselves in a position to fulfil the conditions? Not surprisingly, as Dulat rightly notes, they were silent at the meetings.

Abdul Majid Dar’s ceasefire offer of 2000 was made not only with the approval of the Hizbul chief Salahuddin but at the instance of Musharraf, as a senior Indian official told me. The condition was—involve us. India offered surrender terms with “security” and all. “Actually it was a well-planned move of the (Pakistan) government,” wrote Arif Bahar in Takbeer (August 9, 2000). Vajpayee publicly acknowledged this later. Salahuddin told Onlooker (September 18, 2000), “Let India and Pakistan start. They can involve Kashmiris later. Alternatively, Kashmiris and Delhi can start the dialogue. It doesn’t matter. But there must be an assurance that the three will meet during the decisive phase of the dialogue.”

Syed Ali Shah Geelani has said the Hurriyat had no control over the guns. Dulat ignored the fact that for at least in the last decade, Geelani has consistently denounced violence and offered constructive suggestions which New Delhi has ignored.

In his last months, Abdul Ghani pleaded with Pakistan to send the guns to the leaders. Pakistan did not trust them. It controlled the guns. As Tahir Mohiuddin, editor of Chattan, remarked: “the reins of the freedom movement lay in the hands of outsiders.”

Whatever did Dulat hope to achieve by roping in Shabir Shah, the Abdullahs, the Lones and Abdul Ghani Bhat to settle with New Delhi? What did his favourite Firdous Syed gain except bitterness? When Abdul Ghani Lone told Dulat a propos Sajad “You guys should look after him”, he exposed himself, Sajad and Dulat. True, New Delhi pulled the rug from under Shabir Shah’s feet but had it not, could Shabir have delivered? As Chief Minister he would have been despised. Dulat dangled chief ministership before him. How else could he have managed this but by rigging the elections?

Money in Kashmir

This was the second part of Mission Dulat—bribe the separatists and others and manage the elections. In 2002, “Vajpayee and Brajesh Mishra had tasked me with overseeing a completely free and fair J&K Assembly election.” One would have thought that the task devolved on the Election Commission. But read what followed—“if possible with the participation of separatists”. That was the real task for which he was given plenty of money to disburse. “When I went to Srinagar in May 1988, one of the first things I learnt was about the relationship between Kashmiri leaders and money. Yet if money is in play, then the corollary is that the agent goes to the highest bidder. Indeed, Kashmiris are a heavily layered people and it is not out of character for a Kashmiri to be in touch with either India or Pakistan (or even both) at some point of time. It’s not easy to decipher the Kashmiri psyche, or even to win Kashmiri confidence: centuries of foreign rule, from the Mughals to the Afghans to the Sikhs, have made them natural agents. By now, it is in their DNA.” Read this: “Corrupting a person by giving him 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.”

Murder is not ruled out. “Each time someone was killed by the Pakistanis there was huge frustration and there were discussions, at times, of the need for a tit-for-tat policy. But it remained only an informal discussion because no government in Delhi would approve of it. That the “Bub Jihad” (Father of Jihad) 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 counterproductive. Farooq would have been quite happy and willing to roll him down the Jhelum.”

Indeed, he publicly said in Srinagar on January 13, 2001, “I don’t want to fill jails. My orders to the police are, wherever you find a militant, dispatch him” ( Greater Kailash , January 14, 2001). One would have thought that Geelani’s life—May he live long—was spared out of respect for the sanctity of human life and not because of Dulat’s notion of “our liberal traditions” or Mufti’s fear of consequences of his martyrdom. Earlier, on October 19, 1996, Farooq had said “those who surrender will be welcomed into the mainstream and those who don’t will be killed”. On July 12, 13, 19 and 20, 2007, Kashmir Times published a dossier of his sordid record.

It is in such a setting that money and machinations were deployed to rig elections. Dulat had no hesitation in assuring Farooq ahead of the elections that “Omar toh Chief Minister banega hi (Omar will definitely become Chief Minister) but we want the election to be free and fair” under the Governor’s rule, that is, we do the rigging, not you.

Kashmiris heartily reciprocated Dulat’s contempt for them writ large all over the book. “The I.B. had a sinister reputation in the Kashmiri mind. Part of it was because since Independence, the I.B. had basically been running Kashmir, advising the Home Ministry and reporting directly to the Prime Minister on whatever happened there. Nehru was particularly keen because he was ethnically a Kashmiri, and Kashmir had become a dispute with Pakistan in the United Nations. B.N. Mullik was quite active in Kashmir, and he mentioned as much in his memoir, hinting that he had a significant role to play in the 1964 recovery of the Moi-e-Muqqadas (there were riots in Kashmir when the relic disappeared). If anyone in Kashmir had to abuse a political opponent, they would call him an I.B. agent.”

This went a long way back. Sheikh Abdullah’s problems with Jawaharlal Nehru and Vallabhbhai Patel began with demands for removal of I.B. agents. He told Patel, “According to the Instrument of Accession, the Centre cannot set up an Intelligence Bureau in Kashmir” ( The Blazing Chinar ; page 248).

In an interview to Shabistan Urdu Digest in January 1968, Sheikh Saheb said, “Only that person who enjoys the confidence of the Government of India can be Chief Minister of Kashmir.” B. K. Nehru, one of the ablest and most upright of our civil servants, was Governor of Jammu and Kashmir from 1981 to 1984. He wrote in his memoirs: “From 1953 to 1975 [when Sheikh Abdullah returned to power], Chief Ministers of that State had been nominees of Delhi. Their appointment to that post was legitimised by the holding of farcical and totally rigged elections in which the Congress Party led by Delhi’s nominee was elected by huge majorities.”

Mir Qasim made the same point in his memoirs: “Whenever New Delhi feels a leader in Kashmir is getting too big for his shoes, it employs Machiavellian tactics to cut him to size.” Muzaffar Hussein Beig, Minister in the State government, said on May 2, 2003, that “the Government of India has always been purchasing the leaders of the State. That can be done even today.”

Dulat records that Sajad Lone “looked for extraordinary favours from Delhi, and because of his temperament, Delhi has not been able to handle him properly. Thus the desperation in November 2014, when he went and met Modi; Sajad was thinking that he had to get on Delhi’s right side. Like every other Kashmiri, Sajad believes that what Delhi wants is what will happen.”

And, it does. On July 9, 2008, in Srinagar, Dulat, supposedly in retirement, confidently predicted, “If I have to bet on anybody as the next Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir then I will bet on Omar Abdullah.” Kashmir Times noted his remark in an editorial entitled “A dubious legacy” and observed that “the stage is set for installing the chosen one”.

Deal before elections

Of the 2014 elections, Dulat, in the know of these things, confirms the view that Mufti Mohammed Sayeed had struck a deal with the BJP before the elections. “The feeling in Kashmir was that Mufti had some understanding with the BJP for the Lok Sabha election and may have even had some financial help to contest the elections. Prior to the Parliament election, Mufti had sent Dilawar Mir, a former Minister, as his emissary to meet Modi in Ahmedabad”, credible and impressive precision. As impressive is the management.

Just reflect on this coincidence in the identical number of seats won by each major party in three successive elections—28, too much of a coincidence to be a coincidence. In the 2002 elections, the National Conference (N.C.) won 28 seats. The People’s Democratic Party, or the PDP, (16) forged a coalition with the Congress (20). In 2008, the N.C. was again limited to 28, but the Congress got 16 and a marriage was arranged leaving the PDP (21) out in the cold. In 2014, it is Modi’s favourite, the PDP, which got 28; his BJP 25, to keep the 28 in check, and the Congress 12. As agreed, the PDP and the BJP formed a coalition.

It is not only the coronation of its favourite that New Delhi is obsessed about. Its greater and unspoken fear is a popular Kashmiri nationalist securing a majority in the Assembly and getting it to pass a motion for azadi (self rule). In 1951, Nehru had a testy correspondence with the Sheikh to deny the Constituent Assembly the power to decide the State’s future. Once that was settled, in 1952 he pressed the Sheikh to get the Assembly to ratify the accession. Sheikh Abdullah’s refusal led to the breach.

India finds itself in a bind. If free elections are held and the separatists allowed to contest freely, what if the new Assembly passes a resolution for Kashmir’s independence? Precisely this fear prompted Indira Gandhi to intern Sheikh Abdullah in Delhi in January 1971 and prevent his men from contesting the Lok Sabha elections that year and the Assembly elections in 1972. The decision was taken months earlier, around April-May, 1970.

An official “attached” to the Union Home Ministry met this writer at the India International Centre in New Delhi in April 1969 and urged that the Sheikh be advised “to accept” the Constitution of India. Reason: “We cannot risk the Assembly passing a resolution demanding Kashmir’s independence.” The alternative was spelt out with chilling precision—Sheikh Saheb will not be put in prison. Mirza Mohammed Afzal Beg may or may not be. But party workers will be arrested and imprisoned in numbers large enough to disable the Plebiscite Front from contesting the elections. This is exactly what came to pass months later. The two leaders were interned in New Delhi. Massive arrests followed in Kashmir. The message was duly communicated to Sheikh Saheb minutes later. The official himself drove the writer to Sheikh Abdullah’s residence at 3, Kotla Lane in Delhi, something few officials would have dared to do then.

Sheikh Saheb saw the point—accept the Constitution and assert the State’s rights—and asked the writer to prepare a draft, which he did. “It must be a chiselled draft,” he said. On May 18, 1970, in Srinagar, Beg Saheb shot down the draft on the lawns of the Oberoi. “You will ruin us,” he exclaimed bitterly. He was to rue the remark months later while we jointly drafted the petition challenging the ban on his Plebiscite Front under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1968. It was applied to the State in mid-1970.

People forget Gen. (Retd) V.K. Singh’s disclosures only two years ago. Ritu Sarin’s report in The Indian Express on September 20, 2013,drawn on an official document’s exposures, revealed a lot. They are stunning. An amount of Rs.1.19 crore was given to Ghulam Hassan Mir, Minister for Agriculture in the Government of Kashmir, headed by Omar Abdullah, to oust his chief. He floated the Democratic Party (Nationalist). That the Congress embraced him as an “associate member”, though his membership was not necessary, reveals the Congress’ true role in the State. Mir denied the charge. As much as Rs.2.38 crore was given to one Hakikat Singh “on orders from Army Headquarters”.

On September 21, 2013, General V.K. Singh spoke up. Money was spent on “stability work”. On September 23, he told Arnab Goswami of Times Now: “The Army transfers money to all the Ministers in Jammu & Kashmir … there are various things to be done. As part of the stabilising factor in Jammu and Kashmir, as part of the activities to be organised.” Calculated vagueness cannot conceal the sinister import. Realising that he had put his foot securely in his big mouth, he withdrew it, just a bit. “Maybe not all the Ministers, but certain Ministers and people who are given a certain sum to get a particular thing done. That job involves bringing stability to a particular area.” How? By bribing the leaders?

Is this not interference in an elected government? The answer was swift and telling. Not “if a civilian government is unable to get the people together…”. Deny free and fair elections to Kashmir and buttress the government installed by New Delhi by the means indicated by him. Now comes the most shocking but honest admission of all. “It is nothing new, for the last so many years since [the] independence of this country, this has been going on and has been the practice” (The Indian Express , September 24).

This admission sent New Delhi’s spooks and their henchmen in Srinagar running for cover.

More followed in an interview to Chander Suda Dogra of The Hindu (September 24): “Not just Mir, but many other politicians in J&K are paid by the Army and other intelligence agencies for nationalistic work aimed at maintaining peace in the State. I have served in Kashmir myself and am aware of it. I know which politicians have been paid during my tenure. It is not unusual.”

On September 24, the very day he disavowed payment of bribes, he said also that almost all the Ministers in Jammu and Kashmir were on the payroll of the Army, explaining: “The Army transfers money to all the Ministers to get various things” done as part of the stabilising policy. “Kashmir is a different issue altogether.” Why? Because “there are things which happen in J&K which are inimical to the country. We have a job—that is to keep the country together.” By bribery and corruption.

Army’s role

Farooq Abdullah exposed the Army’s active role in interfering in the conduct of elections. “I knew that they were handling voting.” People were threatened that their legs would be broken if they went to a meeting in Doda in 2002. “I don’t want to expose it as it would be against national security,” he said, adding, “I know my brother Mustafa Kamal got defeated in Gulmarg constituency because the Army played tricks there” (The Indian Express ; September 29, 2013). If this is what it does to a unionist, do you blame the separatists for shunning the elections?Lt. Col. Manoj Channon of the Armoured Corps who has served in Kashmir candidly said: “Anyone who claims that payments are not made is lying through his teeth. Funding is done to ensure the territorial integrity of India and bring the misguided youth into the national mainstream” ( The Tribune ; September 29). V.K. Singh, in Chennai on October 3, asserted: “The secret you are talking… Whatever was revealed by me was revealed by former U.S. Ambassador to India David Mulford. It was published by The Economic Times on 5 September 2011. Please read it. Mulford said everybody in Kashmir gets money and I have said the same thing” ( The Times of India ; October 4, 2013).

The report was filed by The Economic Times ’ Srinagar correspondent Masood Hussain. Mulford’s report to the U.S. State Department was based on the U.S. Embassy’s officials’ visit to Srinagar between April 3 and 5, 2006. Sample these bits. “Corruption cuts across party lines and most Kashmiris take it as an article of faith that politically connected Kashmiris take money from both India and Pakistan”, and “Security officers bribe their way into Kashmir assignments that give access to lucrative civil affairs and logistics contracts”. Mulford alleged: “Omar and Farooq Abdullah, descendants of the Sheikh who first figured out Delhi’s money game, live in fabulous houses in Srinagar and Delhi, wear matching Panerai watches, serve Blue Label to guests and travel all over the world first class courtesy the Indian government.” All this won V.K. Singh’s endorsement; and tacitly Dulat’s?

Omar in August 2007, charged, when in opposition, that “22 of 87 members of the State Legislature are Intelligence Bureau agents” (R.S. Gill in the Srinagar weekly Kashmir Life ; October 5). The game was begun in 1947, not 1990. “Virtually all important security and intelligence agencies that operate out of Kashmir are flushing funds under the garb of source money or secret funds. The BSF [Border Security Force], CRPF [Central Reserve Police Force], Army and even the J&K Police have their own secret fund apart from the Intelligence Bureau, RAW and Military Intelligence, that have sizeable presence in the Kashmir Valley. Sources point out that while intelligence operations conducted by India have required secret funds since 1947, the importance of such operations increased dramatically, especially in J&K, from 1989 onwards when Pakistan-sponsored insurgency began” ( Asian Age ; September 29, 2013; Rajnish Sharma & Sridhar Kumaraswami). Money is paid freely to politicians and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

In 1953, Maj. Gen. Hiralal Atal met a staff officer of the Adjutant General’s Branch “who was carrying with him a largish sum of money”. Both officers were sent to topple Sheikh Abdullah.

Alienation cannot be extinguished by might nor suppressed by bribery. That is precisely why New Delhi cannot allow a free election in Jammu and Kashmir. Two recent statements deserve notice. On September 22, 2013, PDP patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed said, “Central agencies have always been viewed with suspicion for their role in the electoral process and there is a general feeling that the Centre plays favourites and predetermines the outcome of the elections” ( Greater Kashmir ; September 23, 2013).

Haseeb A. Drabu, Finance Minister and Mufti’s intellectual in residence, explained in scholarly detail the techniques of rigging: “The political process in J&K has always operated in a ‘controlled environment’. First, before elections there is systematic disenfranchisement of the population to generate desired overall electoral coordinates (28?). Second, during the election operations there is rigging, ranging from direct stamping to fixing results by engineering selective boycotts to help the chosen candidates. Third, post-election, there is manipulating of the elected government. It is the third ‘intervention’ that V. K. Singh has revealed.”

An election has meaning only as part of a free political process. If the political process is aborted, the election is reduced to a farce. The right to call for a boycott is as precious as the right to vote. Voters are urged to vote NOTA, or None of the Above. In Kashmir, those who call for a boycott are imprisoned.

“The initiation of J&K into the democratic fold was a sign of times to come. In the first ever election in Jammu and Kashmir, not a single vote was cast in the valley! The National Conference, ruling at that time with the help of draconian laws, like the Enemy Ordinances Act, ensured that they won 73 out of a total of 75 seats uncontested…

“The entire electoral demographics have been distorted! In 1989, Jammu region had 18.3 lakh voters, while Kashmir valley had 22.2 lakh voters. In a little over a decade, this was reversed.

“The population of Jammu region as per the 2001 Census was 43.9 lakh while that of Kashmir was 54.4 lakh; i.e. 20 per cent lower. Yet Jammu had 28.7 lakh voters while Kashmir has only 25.5 lakh voters. Despite lower population, the 37 constituencies of Jammu have 1.8 lakh more voters than the 46 constituencies in Kashmir. Who engineered this and how? Take the case of the Sopore constituency in the Valley vis-à-vis the Jammu West constituency. During the 1987 Assembly polls, both had roughly the same number of voters; about 54,000. Yet, in 2001, the number of voters in Sopore was shown to have increased by just 1 per cent in 15 years. As against this, Jammu West shot up by 177 %, making it the largest Assembly constituency in the State. How was this achieved and why? It may help to know that Sopore was the hub of separatist politics.

“All this is a part of the systematic and systematic disenfranchisement of the Kashmiris. Their weightage, despite higher population, is declining in the electoral arena. Correspondingly, that of the Jammu province is increasing. This is fraught with dangerous implications, be it communal or regional…. It doesn’t stand to reason, therefore, to look for a solution to the Kashmir problem, in the current framework of democracy which, it turns out, is a web of deceit. It is the realisation of this fact that sows the seeds of separatism and provides sustenance to militancy; not unemployment, lack of infrastructure, or absence of sporting events like KPL!” ( Greater Kashmir ; September 26, 2013). These realities depress Kashmiris. Disclosures by Dulat and others prove what they had always suspected: (1) Since Kashmir’s accession to India on October 26, 1947, the Government of India set up a nest of spies in the State not only for gathering information but also for covert operations against the State government; (2) For this, money was spent not only through the spies of the I.B. but also through the Army —against its ethos and discipline, with the approval of the Prime Ministers of the day as two well-known documented cases of 1953 and 1984 establish; (3) Kashmiri politicians were bribed systematically; (4) Popular alienation, far from abating, has increased; (5) The result is the debasement of politics and the corruption of the electoral process; (6) It all rests on a profound contempt for the people and for democracy itself; and (7) None of the tactics, so cynically adopted, has helped one bit in a solution to the Kashmir problem.

Dulat was asked by his senior “to reach out to the Kashmiris”. He preferred to bribe the ones who masqueraded as their leaders. Disraeli said: “Old men give advice when they can no longer set bad examples.” In retirement, some truths have dawned on Dulat. “The Kashmiri has suffered for the last twenty-five years and though he largely blames himself, he is not internally at peace with the status quo. The peace with honour he bargained for still eludes him; he made a dignified exit. Why can a Kashmiri not be an Indian? We need to look deep into this question which disturbs us when a shopkeeper in Srinagar enquires, ‘ Aap India se aaye hain ?’ The Indian state is big enough to breach this psychological barrier.” Is it?

In 1965, Brajesh Mishra’s father, D. P. Mishra, advised T.C.A. Srinivasavaradan, later on Home Secretary, when he was posted to Jammu and Kashmir, that India “was still to Kashmir an alien country and it can only be the conduct and behaviour of Hindustanis, particularly in Kashmir, that would induce Kashmiris to become Indians willingly”. Half a century later, India’s failure remains.

It is a vain hope as the record shows. Forget the BJP’s Vajpayee, even Manmohan Singh offered nothing to the Kashmiris. The roots lie deeper. On May 14, 1948, Indira Gandhi wrote to her father from Srinagar, warning him that a plebiscite would go against India. In 1952, the Sheikh felt the same way. Pakistan is not only a party to the Kashmir dispute, it is a party in Kashmir, a living presence.

In 2015, we are faced with two grim truths which are both two sides of the same coin—the Kashmiris do not want and never wanted to join India and India cannot let them go. A Pakistan which failed to get Kashmir in 1965 at its own chosen forum, the battlefield cannot secure it at the conference table by a plebiscite. Kashmiris pine for democratic rule and an end to the partition of Jammu and Kashmir. Musharraf’s 4-Point Formula reconciles these objectives. It is a done deal; even the quantum of self-rule for both parts is agreed.

Barring two or four of the genuine ones, it is foolish to expect any of the bogus separatists to act honestly. The Abdullahs and the Mufti belong properly to the dustbin of history and politics. Once a deal is settled with Pakistan, responsible Kashmiris and the people will come on board. India must negotiate with Pakistan. But, it will not, thanks to Narendra Modi and Ajit Doval. Do not pin too high a hope on the Joint Statement of July 10, 2015. Charles de Gaulle’s sage advice holds good for all time. He told Eric Rouleau, the Swiss diplomat: “You talk to those who shoot at your orders. You don’t talk to those who have no blood on their hands. They are irrelevant.”

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