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No Indian spymaster has, until now, written a memoir. A.S. Dulat is the first to do so, and in A Life in the Shadows he does it with considerable elan.
He is one of India's most successful spymasters, his name synonymous with the Kashmir issue. His methods of engagement and accommodation with all people and perspectives from India's most conflicted state are legendary. The author of two bestselling books, Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years (2014) and The Spy Chronicles: R&AW, ISI and the Illusion of Peace (2018), Dulat's views on India, Pakistan and Kashmir are well-known and sought after.
Yet very little is known about him, primarily because the former spymaster has been notoriously private about his personal life. In this unusual and unique memoir, Dulat breaks that silence for the first time. This is not a traditional, linear narrative as much as a selection of stories from across space and time. Still bound by the rules of secrecy of his trade, he tells a fascinating story of a life richly lived and insightfully observed. From a Partition-bloodied childhood in Lahore and New Delhi to his early years as a young intelligence officer; from meetings with international spymasters to travels around the world; from his observations on Kashmir-political and personal-post the abrogation of Article 370, to his encounters with world leaders, politicians and celebrities; moving from Bhopal to Nepal and from Kashmir to China, Dulat tells the story of his life with remarkable honesty, verve and wit.
Amarjit Singh Dulat is a former head of the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), India's external intelligence agency. After retirement, he was appointed adviser on Kashmir in the Prime Minister's Office and served there from January 2001 to May 2004. During this time, he accumulated a vast reservoir of goodwill with Kashmiris of all shades. As Jane's Intelligence Digest put it in 2001, ‘Well known for his social skills, Dulat preferred dialogue to clandestine maneouvers'. In his heyday, Dulat was referred to as ‘Mr Kashmir'.
Dulat was born in Sialkot, Punjab, in December 1940. With India's partition, his father Justice Shamsher Singh Dulat relocated his family to Delhi. After schooling in Delhi, Simla and Chandigarh, Dulat joined the Indian Police Service (IPS) in 1965, and then the Intelligence Bureau (IB) in 1969, where he served for almost thirty years. At IB he headed the Kashmir Group during the turbulent 1990s till he joined and headed the R&AW.
Dulat's first book, Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years, was published in 2015, followed by The Spy Chronicles: R&AW, ISI and the Illusion of Peace in 2018, which he co-authored with General Asad Durrani, former director-general of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate.