RAW failed to alert on Kargil intrusions, but no one punished: Former PMO official

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Dras: A view of the newly inaugurated 'Memory Lane' at Kargil War Memorial in Dras of Jammu and Kashmir's Kargil district, on July 20, 2019. (Photo: IANS)

New Delhi: A former bureaucrat has thrown the spotlight on the Research and Analysis Wing’s failure (RAW) in alerting the government about the Pakistani intrusion into Kargil. In his book, Jarnail Singh, former Joint Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), says it was the failure of the RAW as an organisation and its senior officials.

“With Four Prime Ministers – My PMO Journey”, is written by former civil servant Jarnail Singh, who served for eight years in the PMO and served with four Prime Ministers – H.D. Deve Gowda, I.K. Gujral, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and Manmohan Singh.

Recalling the period after the Kargil War which India ultimately won, and how the role of the RAW came under scrutiny, Jarnail Singh writes that Vajpayee’s Principal Secretary Brajesh Mishra had asked him to check for mention of intrusions in Kargil sector. Jarnail Singh then checked all reports from January 1999 right up to the months preceding May 1999.

“Surprisingly, there was no information of intrusions, either before or after, in the reports,” he writes in his book which is to be released shortly.

He goes on to remind the readers that “surprisingly nobody was punished for the serious lapses in which about 527 soldiers sacrificed their lives…”

Jarnail Singh also notes that the RAW chief, during the Kargil intelligence fiasco, was ultimately rewarded with the governorship of a northeastern state.

“With Four Prime Ministers…” attempts to give a personalised peek into the action that takes place behind the scenes in the PMO. It comes hot on the heels of the book by another top bureaucrat, Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

As a memoir of his years as Joint Secretary in the PMO, the book chronicles Jarnail Singh’s experiences serving under four different Prime Ministers in the politically turbulent years of fragile coalitions that summarised the post-P.V. Narasimha Rao era of liberalisation.

Of the four Prime Ministers – Deve Gowda, Gujral, Vajpayee, and Manmohan Singh, Jarnail Singh spent the maximum duration of six years under Vajpayee. He also looks back with fondness to this period, terming it as the ‘Golden Era’ for infrastructure and economic development in the history of India.

He spent around nine months each with Deve Gowda and Gujral, and just three months with Manmohan Singh.

Dipping extensively into a personal journal that he maintained throughout, Jarnail Singh has pieced together a narrative that gives a ring-side view of the functioning of the PMO, and the factors at play thereof.

Singh recalls Deve Gowda as a quick decision maker, and a pro-rural Prime Minister. He credits him with taking the first big development initiatives for the North East.

Gujral, who succeeded Deve Gowda, is categorised as a political lightweight, whose strengths lay in external affairs. “A thorough gentleman with a soft corner for Punjab” is how Singh describes Gujral.

Singh who spent barely three months in Manmohan Singh’s PMO, remembers that his approach to work was like an officer and not that of a politician.

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