Maoist attack and Kashmir crisis are a failure of Ajit Doval and Ram Madhav's policies
Why are the two men, along with the Centre, not being held to account?
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India's most "nationalist" government in history has done quite badly on the actual security scenario on the ground. So, while the keyboard warriors battle it out, handing out "faux nationalism certificates" perpetually citing the soldier at the borders, the real soldiers are being given a short shrift.
The death toll of the CRPF battling the Maoists in India's heartland has shown a shocking spiral in the past three years. On Monday, 25 CRPF men were killed in a Chhattisgarh jungle ambush, yet the ministry of home affairs has not found time to appoint a full-time Director General for the force for the past two months after K Durga Prasad retired.
During the same period, the CRPF has lost 38 men in two major ambushes, including Monday's which was the worst in the past seven years.
The terror spiral in the Valley where even an election cannot be held has put a huge question mark over the legitimacy of the inept Mehbooba Mufti government in alliance with the BJP.
Periodic outbreaks in Kashmir, such as the blinding of nearly 100 young people with pellet guns after the death of militant Burhan Wani last summer, are a symptom of the malaise that is plaguing the security establishment – also the fact that National Security Adviser Ajit Doval is completely out of his depth and unable to formulate a response to the ever increasing problem and the constant meddling by the powerful Ram Madhav, the RSS pracharak on secondment to the BJP who is credited with the BJP-PDP alliance.
The Doval-Madhav duo have also meddled in the ministry of external affairs (MEA) with disastrous effect. For those with short memories, remember the Modi-Doval road show around the world with much fanfare last year to secure the Nuclear Security Group waiver and how after a mega publicity blitz, even Mexico and Switzerland voted against us.
While the publicity machine is awash with unconvincing tales of his daring do and acts of valour in Punjab and Pakistan, the reality is somewhat different.
In Pakistan, during his tenure, he was in charge of the security detail of the mission which in itself is quite a taxing job in the hostile environs. People close to him tell me he was identified as an Intelligence Bureau man from day one of his tenure and did not undertake any missions, contrary to the "Desi Bond" myth.
Doval as NSA has ensured that Pakistan and China run rings around India and even friendly Nepal has turned hostile.
After mismanaging the Pathankot siege, which lasted an incredible four days in January 2016, Doval incredibly gave Pakistan access to the Indian Air Force base - the first time ever in our history. Pakistan did not reciprocate and later called the entire siege a "false flag operation" by India.
Doval as NSA has ensured that Pakistan and China run rings around India and even friendly Nepal has turned hostile. Photo: India Today
Consider the case of Myanmar, where India had for years been carrying out secret anti-terror operations. Even this was grist to Doval's publicity machine and one such operation was made public, with junior minister Raghuvendra Rathore tweeting a juvenile hashtag "56 inch rocks".
The result: A red-faced, embarrassed Myanmar refuted reports that India had entered their territory and said no such operations would be allowed in the future.
The so called "historic Naga accord" is yet another example of Doval's insatiable hunger for publicity. The accord signed in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at 7 Lok Kalyan Marg on August 15, 2015, is still a "secret" - its contents known to no one, neither the chief ministers of the affected states such as Manipur, nor Parliament.
Yet Doval, who was heading the RSS-funded Vivekanand Foundation post-retirement where he used to give talks on Pakistan trying to "bleed India by a thousand cuts", is not held to account.
Despite going along with then foreign minister Jaswant Singh in the worst security surrender of the IC-814 hijack on December 24, 1999, Doval emerged as BJP leader LK Advani's key IB point-man.
As Doval's power increased, his family has also benefitted. His son Shaurya who earlier used to run the Saudi-funded Zeus caps now heads the India Foundation along with Ram Madhav. The foundation is key for foreign heavy-hitters looking to connect with the Indian establishment. It has several cabinet ministers such as Nirmala Sitharaman, Suresh Prabhu and Jayant Sinha as directors.
Even Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on her visit this month attended a reception thrown by Madhav via the India Foundation.
Ram Madhav enjoys power without any accountability is evident in the case of the Valley.
His constant espousal of the hard RSS line has ensured that the Valley careens from crisis to crisis with no attempt at any kind of political outreach.
A carpet weaver who had gone out to vote in the recent bypoll, which saw a dismal 7 per cent turnout, was tied by the Army to a jeep and paraded around as a human shield, violating the Geneva convention and the Army's own code; the incident brought India international opprobrium.
But Doval and Madhav's hard line continues, so while India holds on grimly to Kashmir, questions which were considered settled decades ago are being asked again.
In an interview to DailyO, former J&K CM Omar Abdullah confessed candidly that parties like his did not represent the mainstream anymore in the Valley. He also blamed Modi's "tourism versus terrorism" binary laced comment, which is an article of faith with Madhav.
The list of security failures and omissions is stunning. Equally stunning is the fact that the Centre is never held to account for the claims they make.
Remember Modi saying that demonetisation had broken the back of terror and Maoist funding?
After Sukma and the ongoing tragedy in the Valley, has even a single leader asked the question "how and why"?