Indian intelligence agencies regularly pay terrorists, Hurriyat leaders and mainstream Jammu and Kashmir political parties including the National Conference (NC) and PDP, former R&AW chief AS Dulat has revealed in an exclusive interview to Hindustan Times.
“Nobody is immune to bribes, not the militants, not politicians and not the separatists. Over the years, they have all been paid by intelligence agencies. We paid money to demonstrate that what the ISI can do, we can do better, except kill people,” said Dulat, who was posted in J-K as an Intelligence Bureau officer in 1988. He went on to head the Research and Analysis Wing, India's external intelligence agency, and then became adviser to prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, serving in government till 2004.
“As militancy grew in the 1990s, so did the payments. They grew from the hundreds to lakhs of rupees,” revealed Dulat. He said ‘’there were some honourable exceptions in the Hurriyat who did not accept the money”, but refused to name names. Dulat clarified that he could only confirm payments till 2004.
Speaking to HT ahead of the launch of his book, Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years, Dulat said the UPA government that came into power in 2004 made him “the villain of the NDA’s Kashmir policy’’, saying “I had bribed my way through Kashmir, but the fact is that when I was posted to Srinagar in 1988, the first thing I got to know was who was paying whom and how much. It is not a big deal. Intelligence agencies all over the world pay slush money”.
Both the NC and PDP denied the charges. “Our political party has been struggling and striving with the people of Kashmir and we have always functioned in a very transparent way. These allegations are unsubstantiated and we totally deny them,” said the NC’s Junaid Azim Mattoo.
PDP spokesman Wahid-Ur Rehman Parra said, “People say all kinds of things post-retirement. One needs to look into the timing of these allegations, why now and why not before. We don't know who Mr Dulat is trying to benefit and who he is trying to harm by these baseless allegations but he is definitely not helping national interest.”
When HT asked Dulat what he thought of the Narendra Modi government calling off foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan last year over its high commissioner meeting with leaders of the Hurriyat Conference, he said, “There is no getting away from talks with the Hurriyat. You can’t only be talking to Mufti Saeed. The Vajpayee government started a dialogue with the separatists and the Modi government should do the same. The Kashmiris initially welcomed Modi because they thought he would carry the Vajpayee policy forward. Calling off talks was disappointing.”
The former R&AW chief’s book also reveals Vajpayee wanted to make NC leader Farooq Abdullah vice-president in 2002 while making his son, Omar Abdullah, the state chief minister. In a controversial disclosure to HT, Dulat said the Abdullahs did not walk out of the Vajpayee government after the 2002 Gujarat riots “only because he (Farooq) was hopeful of becoming vice-president”. Later, in a bid to control the political damage in the Valley from this move, Omar had emphasized that not leaving the NDA government then was one of his biggest regrets.