It was year 1988. The nation was under attack as The Golden Temple at Amritsar was under the siege of Khalistani militants who were using it as their base to carry out attacks. The Khalistani militants spotted a rickshawallah in the neighborhood that looked ordinary enough. After tracking his movement for 10 days, the militants contacted the rickshawallah who informed them that he was actually a Pakistani ISI operative who wanted to help their cause for a separate nation of Khalistan. Two days before Operation Black Thunder, the rickshaw-puller, after gaining the trust of the militants, entered the Golden Temple and passed on information about the actual strength and positions of the militants inside the temple to his colleagues.
This ordinary-looking rickshawallah was none other than Ajit Kumar Doval – the greatest spy the nation has ever seen.
It was his heroics that made Operation Black Thunder a great success and breaking the back of Khalistani insurgency once and for all.
Born into a Garhwali family in the village of Ghiri Banelsyun in Pauri district of Uttarakhand in 1945, Ajit Doval is the current National Security Advisor who reports directly to Narendra Modi and is PM’s most trusted aide. He has served as the Director of the Intelligence Bureau from 2004–05, after spending a decade as the head of IB’s operations wing.
An IPS officer from the 1968 batch of Kerala cadre, Ajit Doval was the youngest police officer to receive the Police Medal for his exceptional service. He got it after only 6 years while the norm is at least 17 years of service, showing his outstanding strength and qualities as a guardian of the law.
As Ajit Doval climbed ladder of success in his profession, the daring Pahadi made invaluable contributions to national security for more than three decades.
In 1988, he was awarded Kirti Chakra, India’s highest gallantry award – thus becoming the first IPS officer to receive a medal previously given only to military officials!
In 1990, he went to Kashmir and persuaded hardcore militants like Kuka Parray and his partners to become counter-terrorists and assist India in neutralizing other hardline anti-India terrorists. This set the way for state elections in Jammu and Kashmir in 1996. It would be safe to say, Ajit Doval was one of the main reasons for ensuing peace in the Kashmir valley in the 1990s. He also played a role in the termination of all 15 hijackings of Indian Airlines aircraft between 1971 and 1999 including the Indian Airlines’ flight IC-814 that was hijacked and taken to Kandahar in 1999.
“You do one more Mumbai, You lose Baluchistan “- Ajit Doval
Ajit Doval has been quite vocal about his scathing views regarding Pakistan. The Pakistan intelligence themselves are vary about the caliber and acumen of this Indian spy. And why not; Doval earned a reputation for being a peerless field operative as an undercover asset in Pakistan in the early nineties. He spent 7 years in Pakistan undercover posing as a Pakistani Muslim, right under their nose. He recalls one incident he encountered in Pakistan:
“I was undercover in Pakistan for 7 years as a Pakistani Muslim. One day, while walking down the streets, an old Muslim guy with long white beard stopped me. After staring at me for few seconds, he asked me, “Are you a Hindu?” I was startled.
Keeping calm, I replied politely, “No, I’m a Muslim.” He said, “No, you are a Hindu.”
Finally I admitted. “Yes, I’m a Hindu. But how did you come to know?”
He came little close and whispered, “I’m a Hindu too. I saw you had your ears pierced.”
In our Garhwali culture, it is a rite of passage to have your ears pierced. He told me to get it covered. He then took me to his room and showed me little idols of Shiva and Durga hidden inside a cupboard.
“I worship them”, he replied. He told me how his family was killed and he had to disguise himself as a Muslim to survive. I wish I could have helped him but I was never able to meet the man again.”
Currently, Ajit Doval is India’s 5th National Security Advisor and is the primary aide to the Prime Minister of India on national and international security matters. He took office on 30 May, 2014 and right from the word ‘go’ made headlines by securing a release of 46 Indian nurses who were trapped in ISIS-controlled Iraq in June. Doval himself flew to Iraq on a secret mission to understand the situation and make high-level contacts in the Iraqi government. On 5 July 2014, ISIS militants handed the nurses to Iraqi authorities and they were flown back to India.
Not only that, if reports were to believed, Ajit Doval played an crucial role in the 2015 Sri Lankan Presidential Elections to oust the former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was seen as a nuisance to India as he favored China. Doval engineered the unexpected defeat of Rajapaksa by uniting the divided opposition parties; aided Rajapaksa’s chief aide Sirisena to defect and stand in opposition and finally, convinced former Prime Minister Wickremasinghe to not to contest. Sheer brilliance!
It is amazing to learn that a man, who had a humble beginning in the mountains of Uttarakhand, reached the pinnacle of his profession covering the entire spectrum of Indian law enforcement from IPS officer 1968 to NSA in 2015, with his sheer determination and undeterred grit. We salute this courageous man, who spent his entire life serving the nation selflessly and hope he continues to do so.