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Third Edition

A Kashmir Bachao Andolan Publication

July 2002

I N S I D E


Spotlight    Romeet Watt

Top of Page        B Raman

Special Report Hamid Bashani

Fundamentals Subash Kapila

Economy            B N Kaul

InsideTrack          R Upadhyay

Himalayan Blunder              Romeet Watt

In Black & White B Raman

Statecraft             Romeet Watt

Bottomline           R Upadhyay

 

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 S P OT  L I G H T

 

R A W: Kashmir & Beyond

Romeet Watt


This article first appeared in the Mumbai-based English daily, Mid-day as a two part series and gives useful insights on the working of the low profile Indian Intelligence, RAW.


BACKGROUND 

Research And Analysis Wing which is commonly know by its acronym RAW, though an external intelligence organ of the state is known to have domestic operations primarily in states of the Union where the separatists and secessionists movements are strong. Formed in 1968, RAW has had marginal success in its operations. It has had its glory during the liberation of Bangladesh (East Pakistan) from Pakistan when it took tremendous initiatives in ensuring that the Sheikh Mujibur Rehman’s Mukti Bandi movement succeeded. “Indian sources, including journalists, have put on record how much before 1971 RAW had established the network of a separatist movement through ‘cells’ within East Pakistan and military training camps in Indian territory adjoining East Pakistan. The Mukti Bahini were all in place organizationally to take advantage of the political trouble in 1971 and carry out acts of sabotage against communication lines so that Indian forces simply marched in at the ‘right’ time. RAW agents provided valuable information as well as acting as an advance guard for conducting unconventional guerrilla acts against the Pakistani defense forces”, writes noted analyst Dr Shreen M Mazari.  

Its failed policy in Sri Lanka has been one of the biggest set backs for RAW. The very fact that ‘Voice of America’ in the early days of LTTE’s struggle used to address them as ‘Indian Contra Rebels’ speaks volumes about the involvement of the Indian Intelligence and as to who the mentors of Prabakaran were before he turned his back on them. According to Rohan Gunaratna, in his book Indian Intervention in Sri Lanka, RAW waged a secret war in India beginning 1983 so that when the Sri Lankan armed forces launched a major offensive against the Tamil militancy in 1987, the Indian government had already ensured that the Tamils were well supplied and were able to conduct terrorist acts that brought the war closer to Colombo.

RAW has had limited success in its operations in Nepal, Bhutan and even in Maldives which it wanted to use as a base for anti-Sri Lanka operations. “ The ethnic crisis in Bhutan led by people of Nepalese origin is also said to have been aggravated by RAW - to try and turn the political crisis to India’s advantage. In Nepal India has consistently intervened in the politics of this Hindu kingdom by promoting pro-India politicians. The economic dependence of this land-locked state on India makes it very difficult for any Nepalese government to assert its sovereignty”, writes a senior analyst in her paper India’s unconventional war strategy. 

PAKISTAN AND RAW 

Unlike its Pakistani counterpart, RAW has very limited role to play in the domestic politics and as such is not used for espionage activities aimed at political opponent as has been the practice with our neighbors. In comparison to ISI, RAW comparatively maintains a very low profile and little is known about its structure expect for its chief who directly reports to the Prime Minister. 

It has had moderate success in its operations on the Pakistani soil; has been instrumental in supporting the separatists and secessionists movements but has not been able to sustain the movements long enough to cause irreparable damage as ISI has been able to do in Kashmir. Pakistan has time and again accused RAW of sponsoring sabotage in Punjab, where RAW is alleged to have supported the Seraiki movement, providing financial support to promote its activities in Pakistan and organizing an international Seraiki conference in New Delhi in November-December 1993. 

Says a senior political analyst, “Before the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan altered the dynamics of the whole Pakistan-Afghanistan relationship, RAW sought to nurture the Pakhtunistan issue clandestinely even as the Indian government sought to overtly cosy up to certain members of the political elite in the NWFP. When RAW saw an opportunity in Balochistan in the form of Baloch discontentment - especially in the face of ZA Bhutto’s dismissal of the elected government of that province - it moved in fast to play up the issue of Punjabi dominance. While the Baloch insurgency may have had indigenous roots, it was nurtured and sustained with external aid and assistance and RAW’s trademark was clearly evident through the Afghan route.” 

Though the role of RAW with regard to Pakistan first came to light in the late 60’s when the RAW is said to have trained separatists at camps bordering the East Pakistan. Its main success in the heartland of Pakistan was recorded in the early 80’s with the advent of the USSR forces in Afghanistan. It is alleged that RAW in connivance with the Afghani Intelligence and the dreaded KGB made irreparable damage to the mujahadeen movement in Pakistan and Afghanistan with its covert operations. Writes Ikram Sehgal, “The ugly face of terror appeared fully in Pakistan with the advent of the Afghan War in the early 80s as the Communist-led regime in Kabul countered Pakistan’s support for the MUJAHIDEEN by a spate of bombings in the major urban cities of Pakistan, particularly public market places, transportation modes and its nodal points, a coward’s way of inflicting the most damage on innocent non-combatants. The Al-Zulfikar movement was initially funded and trained by Khan, the Afghan security agency, followed almost simultaneously by India’s Research and Analytical Wing or as it is better known by its Acronym RAW, in turn these were trained and coordinated by the KGB, primary raison d’etre being to export bloody terrorism to the perceived enemies of their respective governments. During the 80s the KGB, ably supported by KHAD and RAW, were carrying out a relentless terrorist campaign against Pakistan through many splinter militant groups of political parties inimical to the Zia Regime, Al-Zulfikar being in the forefront with primary bases in Afghanistan and India and secondary bases in Syria and Libya” 

RAW AND KASHMIR   

The former chief of RAW, A S Daulat presently with the Prime Ministers Office is said to be the brain behind the RAW’s operations in Kashmir. Apart from its regular activities which involves tracking down the key figure heads of the militant wing of the separatists movement, it has assumed a new dimension over a period of time: a dimension that has been part and parcel of ISI in Pakistan. Writes Dr. Bhaskar Kasturi in his paperNotes on the Hijbul Mujahadeen and the Indian Intelligence’, “the RAW chief handled Kashmir for a long time during his tenure in the Intelligence Bureau. Everyone from the Prime Minister to J&K Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah listens to him. It is very rare that someone questions this Kashmir veteran's observations. The only time he was snubbed was when he accompanied Brijesh Mishra to Srinagar to talk to Hurriyat leaders. Hurriyat chief Professor Abdul Ghani Bhat had asked Daulat to leave the room. 

There is none better than Dr Abdullah to attest to Daulat's Kashmir credentials. There are enough stories floating around about the role Daulat played in Farooq becoming chief minister of the troubled state four years ago. So there could be something in the argument that the ceasefire was a RAW operation to penetrate and split the Hizbul.  

But to what purpose? Only Farooq has been strengthened. This is so because the Government, which six months ago released Hurriyat leaders with much fanfare, now seems to have turned its back on the Hurriyat leadership”. 

Daulat in his days as the chief of the RAW is known for his close proximity to Abdulla. The stand that his successor Vikram Sood will take is anybody’s guess for he has been carrying out the agenda laid down by his predecessor. 

ISI has always had political dimensions to its operations and its role in manipulating the political outcomes is an ascertained fact. RAW has assumed the same role in Kashmir wherein Political Cells have been formed involving the moderate separatists leaders, NRI Kashmir’s (Including Pundits) and counter-insurgents with the sole aim of influencing the political outcome of the Kashmir problem. 

The prominent counter-insurgent group which came into lime light for its role in fighting the Pakistan sponsored separatists was Ikwan-Ul- Musalmeen headed by Jamsheed Sheraji alias Kuka Parrey who currently is also a sitting member of the state legislative assembly. His role, which he played exceedingly well to the extent that he was able to wrest control from the Pak sponsored separatists is areas in south Kashmir with the backing of the Indian security forces. 

But as has been the precedent, New Delhi instead of taking this counter insurgency against separatists to a logical conclusion decided that the state would be safer in the hands of the prodigal son, Farooq Abdulla. Had New Delhi followed up with the former policy, things might just have been different?   

Subsequent to assuming of power, Abdulla ensured that the assistance rendered to these counter insurgent groups was terminated and as a result of which the Pak backed separatists and secessionist’s forces systematically eliminated the figureheads of these organizations.   

The Hurriyat Conference which happens to the political face of the separatists and secessionists movements backed by Pakistan has been ridden with factionalism, which is alleged to have been engineered by the Indian Intelligence. New Delhi’s policy towards Hurriyat Conference has been that of ‘stick & carrot’, wherein to begin with there was a complete crack down on its activities with the arrest of all its front ranking leaders. The same were lodged in various jails across the length and the breadth of the country. The alienation of the separatist’s political figures was aimed at marginalizing the separatist’s movement and at the same time to facilitate that Abdulla was in lime light for he was feeling marginalized with Hurriyat Conference being at the focus of attention.  

Given the new dimension which emerged in the decade long insurgency in Kashmir with the advent of foreign mercenaries, New Delhi changed tracks and is said to have entered into a tacit understanding with the moderate leaders of the Hurriyat conference which subsequently facilitated their release from jails. 

This also formed and paved way for a process of ‘peace talks’ with the political heads of the separatists. K C Pant’s appointment as the chief negotiator on behalf of the Government of India was made after this initial ground work was laid: RAW playing an instrumental role in the whole process. 

Thus over the years, RAW focused primarily on the formation of ‘Political Cells’ within and outside Kashmir primarily aimed at exploring possibilities for the revival of a mass political process in Kashmir. 

However little was known to RAW then that the whole process will come tumbling down as a pack of cards. It may have met with success in Pakistan, given the nature of the state but failure was the order of the day, for many of these separatists leaders turned out to be double agents working for both sides. Thus contrary to the expectations, they failed to deliver the goods. 

Dr. Bidanda M Chengappa, Senior Fellow, IDSA in his paper titled The ISI role in Pakistan’s Politics has classified the nature of various intelligence organizations. He says, “In a scheme for the classification of intelligence agencies there are three models: (a) bureau of domestic intelligence (b) political police (c) independent security state. (a) The bureau would have specific powers derived from a charter or statute and it is primarily concerned with information-gathering about criminal prosecution of security offences and it does not conduct aggressive countering operations against citizens or political groups. (b) The political police are different from the bureau because it enjoys greater autonomy from the democratic policy-making and is adequately insulated from the legislative and judicial scrutiny. It is close to the groups in power wherein its powers and responsibilities flow from loosely defined delegations of executive power. It could also gather political intelligence and conduct aggressive countering operations against political opposition. (c) The independent security state has no external controls and differs from the political police because its goals are determined by agency officials and could be dissimilar to that of the political elite. Its operations are directed by the agency officials rather than the elected officials.”

The million-dollar question is whether our Intelligence agency is carrying out its activities in Kashmir in the same manner as ISI carries them out in entire Pakistan?

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