Srinagar: In an interview on Thursday, and ahead of the release of his book on Kashmir, former chief of India’s external intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) AS Dulat made some startling ‘revelations’ regarding Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, NC patron Farooq Abdullah, PDP President Mehbooba Mufti as well as Hizb Chief Syed Salahuddin and Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.
According to Dulat, then-Indian PM AB Vajpayee reneged on his promise to make Farooq Abdullah India’s Vice President while claiming Mirwaiz Farooq “lacks political courage” and was “scared of being killed”. He also said that after the 2002 elections, Vajpayee advised Congress president Sonia Gandhi to not make Mufti the CM because there were ‘apprehensions’ that his daughter had links with militants and the Jamaat-e-Islami.
“This is because Delhi at that time had grave doubts about Mehbooba Mufti. It was felt she had links with the Hizbul Mujahideen and Jamaat. 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. The former spy chief, also considered a pointsman in Track II talks with pro-freedom groups, claimed the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen chief asked the IB to arrange admission for his son in a medical college, which was okayed by the senior Abdullah.
“Salahuddin, the head of the Hizbul Mujahideen and the Jihad Council, once contacted the head of IB in Srinagar (KM Singh) to ask for his son’s admission in a medical college which Farooq Abdullah, then Chief Minister, arranged,” Dulat said in a interview with India Today TV. “There are many instances of IB and RAW 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 added.
Dulat revealed that Vajpayee wanted Farooq Abdullah to come to Delhi and allow his son Omar to rule in the Valley: “Vajpayee was impressed by Omar Abdullah. He was fond of the young leader. Vajpayee wanted Farooq in Delhi and Omar to lead in J&K. Farooq was offered VP’s post by Brijesh Mishra on behalf of Vajpayee. Farooq, however, always felt Delhi didn’t trust him. He knew Delhi will let him down.”
On the Gujarat riots, Dulat said that Vajpayee had expressed his disappointment over the handling of the situation in 2002, while Narendra Modi was heading that state.
Dulat also spoke about the Agra Summit, saying that talks between Vajpayee and then-Pakistan President Gen Pervez Musharraf failed at the last moment: “The summit started on a sour note. A night before the Agra talks, Advani during a meeting with Musharraf asked for underworld don Dawood Ibrahim’s repatriation. Surprised by Advani’s straight talk, Musharraf then said ‘Let’s go to Agra’. There was too much pressure on Vajpayee.”
The former RAW chief recalled asking Brijesh Mishra about the reason behind the talks failing. “Bas hotey hotey reh gaya (It was about to happen, but…),” Mishra apparently told Dulat.
He said the Vajpayee-led government mishandled the IC-814 hijacking issue. “Nobody wanted the Air India plane to leave Amritsar. But nobody took the important decision fearing collateral damage,” Dulat said.