NSA Ajit Doval's visit to Kashmir's Shopian sends strong message to those who predicted doom, gloom if Article 370 was revoked

On Wednesday, visuals showed National Security Advisor Ajit Doval walking all alone in casuals in Shopian in Kashmir. There were no security personnel on sight, at least in the long frame of moving cameras. He was seen talking to people on the street, in market places and then having tea at a roadside pavement near a closed market area. He was also seen buying lunch from another vendor on the pavement and joining a small group of people who were eating there, apparently buying food from the same vendor. Mind you, Doval is no unknown name and face in Kashmir.

A visual like this is not seen very often, and that too in a region which is considered to be militancy infested. Such visuals tell a story of their own. The critics may call it an all planned and orchestrated optic to give the desired impression, but it does not undermine the importance of what happened.

 NSA Ajit Dovals visit to Kashmirs Shopian sends strong message to those who predicted doom, gloom if Article 370 was revoked

National Security Advisor Ajit Doval interacts with the locals while reviewing the security situation in Shopian, Jammu and Kashmir. PTI

The timing of this out of box, bold and brave move coming a day after both the Houses of the Parliament passed a resolution to revoke sections of Article 370 (and Article 35A) and bifurcated the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories has its own significance. The place Doval chose for his freewheeling interaction with the common people is also very important. Shopian is one of the hotbeds of militancy. A few days ago, the area was in news for an encounter where some militants were eliminated and one security personnel of the Rashtriya Rifle had lost his life.

These pictures or small videos (in fact eight in number) would go to the home of every citizen in Kashmir and the rest of the country. Each would have their own interpretation, but one thing is clear — it was a strong message to those politicians who had been predicting doom, gloom and unbridled violence if the Centre dared to revoke Article 370 and Article 35A.

The Narendra Modi government, in fact, went a step further and created two UTs out of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The Modi government deserves the credit that so far it has been successful in containing any adverse fallout in Kashmir Valley or in other parts of the country. This is also a message to sections of the so-called intelligentsia who have been running what is called cottage and SME industry in name of troubles in Kashmir and thriving by claiming to be experts.

Doval latest move or 'Doval doctrine' as some would call, is the first experiment of its kind. The only parallel old-timers draw is of an incident relating to super cop KPS who during the height of militancy in the state drove to the Golden Temple and went inside unannounced with Kushwant Singh and stayed there for about an hour explaining things to latter. That proved to be a game-changer in terms of brinkmanship of "psyops" as security strategists call it. Will Doval's move prove to be a game-changer in psychological warfare or battle of nerves between security forces, the separatists and terrorists? It would be too early to comment.

Call it a confidence-building measure or a display of extreme confidence on part of the Union government, either way, what Doval has done will be discussed and debated for long.

Doval lands at a market place which is completely shut down and mixes with locals asking questions like how they are and how their apple business is doing. He then says Inshaallah things will be alright. By the grace of the Almighty, things are indeed going to be better. Everyone in the government was striving for their (Kashmiris) security wellbeing so that they and their children do well in life and make a name for themselves and their family in the world. The ugly daily incidents have only done damage. One should work for themselves, their country and for their faith.

The NSA then moves to another corner to have tea and food from a nondescript street-side vendor, again talking to people around him.

The message he was trying to give was that one of the most threatened officials in the country was moving on the streets of a trouble-torn region freely, fearlessly and engaging with the people in the most friendly manner, instilling confidence among them that this is a government for them and with them.

He and the Central government are trying to convey to the people that the abolition of Article 370 and Article 35A and the status of Union Territory for Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh has been done for the good of the people.

Doval's interaction with the security forces, the Jammu and Kashmir Police and CRPF personnel was again very meaningful. Both the forces are on the ground, managing the law and order situation, and on the frontline fighting with militants and attempting to restore normalcy under adverse circumstances.

He had special praise for the Jammu and Kashmir Police for their valour, professionalism and for the sacrifices made by the policemen and their families. Being a policeman Doval was at ease identifying himself as one among them. He did so in his interaction with CRPF personnel also.

Doval is currently in Kashmir Valley to review the security situation and prepare the ground for the arrival of Home Minister Amit Shah.

What is commendable is the way with which the Modi government has moved in the last three days — passing a resolution to revoke Article 370 and Article 35A and the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill 2019 in both Houses of Parliament and then the NSA making the Government of India’s confident presence felt on the ground.

Updated Date: Aug 07, 2019 23:32:33 IST