SUBIR BHAUMIK The burning down of 9 crude oil tankers in Upper Assam points to a change in equations between rebel groups in India’s Northeast. Indian intelligence agencies now confirm that this violent action was carried by joint squads of ULFA (Independent) and NSCN (Issak-Muivah) guerrillas. But ULFA(I) is in the rebel coalition UNLFSWEA that was…
Ajit Kumar Doval KC, the National Security Advisor (NSA) to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is being seen as the man responsible for the favourable outcome of India’s conflict with China over Doklam. Doval has become a cult figure due to his skillful operations, hawkish ideology and a background that echoes themes from spy movies. He attracts sharp criticism as well as blind adulation.
He is the man PM Modi is said to trust more than anyone else not only on national security but also on foreign relations. His popular ‘Doval Doctrine’ is behind the government’s hard approach to terrorism and hostile countries.
Who is Doval?
Born in Pauri Garhwal, Doval is a Kerala-cadre IPS officer of the 1968 batch. He has served in the operations wing of Intelligence Bureau and was also its director in 2004–05. He was awarded the country’s second highest peacetime gallantry award, the Kirti Chakra. He became the first police officer to receive it. After he retired from IB, he set up a think tank, Vivekanand International Foundation (VIF) in 2009. He has extensive experience in counter-insurgency operations in the North East, Punjab, Pakistan and J&K.
Why is he called James Bond?
His life as a spy on the ground seems right out of cinema. A daredevil, he has often escaped death narrowly. He lived under cover in Pakistan for seven years, which is very unusual for an officer. Disguised as a Pakistani Muslim, he used to make friends among the locals by visiting mosques.
According to a report, he was once identified as a Hindu by a local from his pierced ears. Doval got a surgery done on his ears so that his cover cannot be blown. During terrorism in Punjab, he sneaked into Golden Temple right before Operation Black Thunder in 1988. He presented himself to the terrorists hiding within as an ISI spy who had come to help them. He gleaned information from terrorists and passed it on to the security agencies.
What is Doval Doctrine?
Doval gave two lectures in 2014 and 2015 in which he delineated his thoughts on defence and foreign policy. These thoughts came to be known as the Doval Doctrine. Doval favours a tough stance with hostile countries and terrorists and thinks personal morality has no role to play in international relations. According to Doval, the opponent can be engaged at three levels: defensive, defensive-offensive and offensive. He is more in favour of defensive-offensive approach, which manifested in India’s surgical strike on terror launch pads in the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and on militants in Myanmar last year.
Doval got a surgery done on his ears so that his cover cannot be blown. During terrorism in Punjab, he sneaked into Golden Temple right before Operation Black Thunder in 1988. He presented himself to the terrorists hiding within as an ISI spy who had come to help them. He gleaned information from terrorists and passed it on to the security agencies
He had famously warned Pakistan it should be prepared to lose Baluchistan if it carried out another 26/11-type attack in India. Doval thinks values of the state are more important than personal values.
Why does China hate him?
Doval is behind India’s stand on Doklam and the later efforts to defuse the situation. China is aware of the Doval Doctrine and is wary of his thinking. Right before Doval went to China to attend a BRICS meeting last month while the Doklam dispute was on, China’s state-run Global Times wrote this about him: “India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval is to visit China for the annual BRICS National Security Advisers’ meeting this week. Doval is believed to be one of the main schemers behind the current border standoff. Doval will inevitably be disappointed if he attempts to bargain with Beijing over the border disputes.” A month later, Doval was not disappointed at all. China had to agree with India to withdraw troops from Doklam. After Doklam, Doval has gained a higher stature which means India following his Doval Doctrine with much more zeal.