In 1996, he was the first serving Army officer to write a book based on his experience in handling insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir in the early nineties.
A decade later, the man who created a storm, says retired officers should be careful not to run down the organisations they had served. "It is very easy to run down an organisation once you are outside…. It takes courage to dissent when you are still in service," said Lt-General (retd) Arjun Ray as he spoke out against the trend of former bureaucrats and intelligence officers picking up the pen to write their memoirs.
Ray was a major general when he wrote
Kashmir Diary: Psychology of Militancy
, drawing on his experience as a Brigadier General Staff of 15 Corps in the Valley from November 1993 to 30 September 1995. The book dealt with the psychology or the mentality of political violence and chronicled the strategy to conduct the information-war to win the hearts of people.
The Army and the defence ministry cleared the book. Manas Publications, at the centre of a storm for publishing Maj Gen VK Singh's book, published Gen Ray's book too.
Unlike Maj Gen Singh who wanted to inspire the public to demand accountability from intelligence agencies, Gen Ray trudged the thin line between classified information and subtle dissent. As a reviewer had written, "You have to read between the lines".
Gen Ray too was critical of the way insurgency was being handled. That the government cleared his book and stood by him, he said shows that "intellectual dissent" is encouraged within the government system.
Irrespective of the way in which the major general handled his subject – some say he made it too personalised – several officials who have retired from the security establishment said there was no sensitive information in the book that really jeopardised national security. "There is a good chance that the government wanted to make an example out of Singh to deter others from embarrassing them," said an official.