On the morning after my father died, I received an unexpected visitor. “My name is R.N. Kao,” he said, without preamble. “I have come to pay my respects to your father because we were old friends.” I was taken aback, for Kao had been the first director of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) when it was established in 1968 and a legendary figure in the murky world of intelligence from my first days in journalism.
At some point during the next 20 minutes, I asked him why he had not written his memoirs. “I have not and will not,” he said with unusual emphasis. “Intelligence officers should never write books.” The wisdom of his remark has been brought home to me by the storm that has broken out in Kashmir after the publication of the memoirs of one of his most illustrious successors, Amarjit Dulat (see preceding interview).
Dulat’s desire to commemorate a long life spent in the service of his country is understandable. Others have done it: in the US, it is routine even for officials who have spent only a single presidential term in the administration. What is more, few civil servants have understood, and cared for, the well-being of Kashmir as deeply as he has.
But unlike Punjab, Mizoram and upper Assam, the integration of Kashmir is not a closed chapter in India’s history. Dulat has described the methods he used to foil separatism in a region that is still deeply disaffected, and seething with resentment at its complete disempowerment by New Delhi. His book has therefore inadvertently discredited virtually every Kashmiri group that has entered into negotiations with New Delhi to find a peaceful end to this tortured conflict. More regrettably, it has provided grist to the mill of a new generation of separatists bent upon separating Kashmir from India.
Two immediate reactions...