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Peace, Kashmir and hockey: Why NSA Ajit Doval could stay in Valley till Aug 15

National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, who landed in Srinagar on Monday and has been camping in the Kashmir Valley since then, is expected to stay put till Independence Day celebrations are held on August 15.

india Updated: Aug 10, 2019 22:16 IST
Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
National Security Advisor Ajit Doval
National Security Advisor Ajit Doval(ANI file photo)
         

National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, who landed in Srinagar on Monday and has been camping in the Kashmir Valley since then, is expected to stay put till Independence Day celebrations are held on August 15, people familiar with the development said.

Till then, Doval also has to ensure that Bakrid passes off peacefully with Kashmiris celebrating the festival and Pakistan’s effort to engineer violence on August 14, their independence day, is neutralised to a large extent. Pakistan’s top security panel has already announced that it would observe its Independence Day in solidarity with what it described as the struggle of the Kashmiri people and August 15, as a black day.

Doval has travelled across the Kashmir valley to reach out to people, get a sense of the pain points that can be addressed and hold coordination meetings with top army and paramilitary commanders, said a senior official as a fresh set of videos and photographs showed Doval reaching out to people at an animal market in south Kashmir’s Anantnag.

This video one shows Doval chatting up a local. The NSA asks him about the price and weight of the sheep. The man responds, tells him the sheep is from Drass. ‘’Do you know where Drass is?’’ the Kashmiri man asks Ajit Doval in all innocence.

Before Doval who knows the state as the back of his hand can respond, a local official who was accompanying him introduces the NSA. They all walk off after shaking hands.

Watch: Article 370 | Ajit Doval visits Kashmir’s Anantnag, interacts with locals ahead of Eid 

There have been videos of some of his other interactions as well.

While Doval is seen interacting with public in Shopian, Anantnag – the hotbed of terrorism since 2016 – and patting sheep at an animal market ahead for Bakrid, his main task is to bring intelligence, administration, paramilitary forces and the Indian Army on the same page.

Doval’s extended stay in the Valley is part of a pattern.

Also read | Cabinet cleared Jammu and Kashmir move in ‘just 7 minutes’

In the intelligence establishment, NSA Ajit Doval has a reputation of planning his operations like a hockey game. He takes his team from the half line to the terminology circle (or D) but then, enters the ‘D’ alone to score a goal.

A meticulous planner, the NSA had assessed the Kashmir valley when he visited Srinagar on July 23 and then chalked out action with military and intelligence chiefs at Sardar Patel Bhavan on July 25. Armed with his assessment, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah decided to repeal Articles 370 and 35-A with the objective of winning the Kashmiri alienation with development and a better future.

The need for Prime Minister Modi to send his points-person Ajit Doval was to ensure that there was no over reaction from the security forces to any agitated youth in the valley and give Pakistan no opportunity to cry human rights violation in Geneva. It is understood that Islamabad has already approached the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva citing so-called repression in Kashmir.

On Kashmir’s ground zero, Ajit Doval single-point objective is to hold peace in this part of the country and ensure that pro-Pakistan separatists, terrorists and activists do not gain an upper hand.

Just as NSA acted as PM Modi’s spearhead for the 2016 surgical strike and the Balakot air strike, Doval’s task this time is peace, not pre-emptive strike.

Also read | Will move UN Security Council on Kashmir with China’s ‘full support’, says Pak