KL NEWS NETWORK
Ahead of his book launch – Vajpayee Days – former head of India’s intelligence agency – RAW – AS Dulat, is on a revelation spree. Dulat, considered to be point man during Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s Prime Ministerial days, has been handling Kashmir for over two decades now.
In a conversation on India Today show – To The Point – with Karan Thapar, Dulat has made many startling revelations claiming that the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was against making Mufti Muhammad Sayeed the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir because of “grave doubts that his daughter Mehbooba Mufti had militant links.”
Further, he also said that the chief of Hizbul Mujahideen, Syed Salahuddin “sought a favour from Intelligence Bureau (IB)” that his son be given a medical seat in a college in Kashmir which was agreed to.
Dulat claimed that Syed Salahuddin, the head of Hizbul Mujahideen and Jihad Council, “once contacted the head of IB (intelligence bureau) in Srinagar (K M Singh) to ask for a place in a medical college for his son which Farooq Abdullah, then Chief Minister, arranged.”
“There are frequent instances of IB and R&AW doing such favours for militants, including those in Pakistan. In this instance it was part of what could have been an attempt to lure Salahuddin back which didn’t succeed,” he said.
Dulat said in 2002, Vajpayee had advised Congress chief Sonia Gandhi against making Mufti Muhammad Sayeed the chief minister. “This is because Delhi at that time had grave doubts about Mehbooba Mufti. They believed she had links with the Hizbul Mujahideen and Jama’at. As a result during a visit to Srinagar in April 2003, Vajpayee insisted that Mehbooba should not be on the stage with him and Mufti Sayeed,” Dulat said.
However, Dulat revealed that Vajpayee wanted to make Farooq Abdullah as Vice President but reneged on the promise. “This was part of an idea Vajpayee had to make Omar Abdullah Chief Minister of Kashmir whilst making his father Farooq Vice President,” he said.
He said that the offer to make Farooq Abdullah Vice President happened at his Delhi residence at a private dinner and was made on Vajpayee’s behalf by Brajesh Mishra. Later, he said, Farooq told him that both L K Advani and Vajpayee had reconfirmed the offer. “However, Farooq always had doubts whether Vajpayee would fulfil this promise. He told me ‘I don’t trust them. I don’t trust Delhi’,” Dulat said.
Ultimately, Vajpayee reneged on the promise, because, Dulat said, “people in Delhi felt Farooq was unreliable. They even suggested he would not spend time in the RajyaSabha. The other problem was that Farooq becoming Vice President was part of an arrangement whereby Krishan Kant would become President. When the latter didn’t happen the promise to Farooq fell by the wayside. Farooq felt bitter. He felt let down.”
Dulat also said Mirwaiz Umar Farooq “lacks political courage”. “He is scared he could be killed, and scared of the ISI and Pakistan.”
“He has a great future. He has a constituency. (But) because of the fact he has been under threat… his father was killed. His uncle was killed. His family has great concern for him. Pakistanis are holding his career back. I told my friends in Pakistan that you are doing great disservice to Mirwaiz. He fears for his life and fears Pakistan. But he has ambition.”
Former RAW chief further said that Mufti Muhammad Sayeed has a complex about Farooq Abdullah. “He is in awe of him.”
Dulat said Mufti sees himself as “socially inferior”. “Mufti’s dream has always been to defeat Farooq Abdullah.”
Giving details of a dinner in 1995, which Mufti asked him to arrange so that he could meet Farooq and improve their relationship, Dulat said, Farooq deliberately came late making Mufti “jittery and nervous”. “This was Farooq’s way of showing he was superior. It was one-upmanship.”
“However, in apparent contradiction, in the mid-90s Mufti believed that the only person who could restore democracy in Kashmir was Farooq Abdullah. This was when Mufti was in limbo after the collapse of V P Singh’s government. At that point Mufti regarded Farooq as the best future for Kashmir and India,” Dulat said.
“There was one Firdous Syed. He came over ground. He was very close to Shabir Shah. After he came over ground, he came to New Delhi, met two Home Ministers, first Chawan, and then Gupta. He asked now what for us. He said: ‘Mai to abkahinka b nahiraha’… He wanted accommodation in political system. I went to Farooq Abdullah and told him that he belongs to NC family. He was then accommodated as MLC.”
Speaking about the Agra Summit, Dulat said that a meeting L K Advani had with Gen Musharraf the night before soured the atmosphere. “This is when Advani surprised Musharraf by asking for Dawood Ibrahim. This took Musharraf back and a shadow was cast thereafter on the Agra Summit.”
However, at Agra, Dulat said he was told by Brajesh Mishra that they were very close to agreement. “As Mishra put it: ‘Yaar, hote-hoterehgaya … Ho gayatha, who toh.’
He said Vajpayee and Brajesh were palpably disappointed. Dulat also said that Ashraf Qazi, then Pakistani High Commissioner, told him that on three occasions Jaswant Singh had rung the Pakistanis to say a deal was done. But it never happened.