Stories across Space and Time: From the Pen of an Indian Spymaster
Ali Ahmed
A LIFE IN THE SHADOWS: A MEMOIR by AS Dulat HarperCollins, Gurugram, 2023, 256 pp., ₹ 699.00
March 2023, volume 47, No 3

AS Dulat is reported to have put out, the book under review has been written without taking clearance from current-day intelligence minders. An earlier government order had it that those serving and retired from intelligence services were required to take such clearance prior to publishing anything related to their work. Dulat, former Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) head and Intelligence Bureau (IB) officer, has cocked a snook at the order with good reason. On the surface, there is nothing in the book that should see him fall afoul of powers-that-be. In other words, there is little upfront in the book for a reviewer to encourage readers to get a copy. The book however says much, if read between the lines.

A major point that the author puts across in his seemingly casual manner is that there is a hard-line operational in Kashmir and against Pakistan. This owes in part to a streak of ruthlessness in the personality of National Security Adviser, Ajit Doval. Dulat devotes the better part of a chapter to get us familiar with his ‘friend’ and former IB colleague, Doval. To Dulat, Doval is the ideally suited security manager for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who enjoys the reputation of a strong man publicized assiduously since his days in Gujarat and now as the Prime Minister taking ownership of surgical strikes.

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