Failures and Controversies: The Tenure of Ajit Doval as National Security Adviser

Despite Early Successes, Doval's Tenure has been Marked by Recurring Terrorist Attacks, Security Lapses, and Strategic Failures, Raising Questions About His Effectiveness and the Need for New Leadership.

Ajit Doval’s tenure as India’s National Security Adviser (NSA) since his appointment on May 30, 2014, has been marked by significant security incidents that have raised questions about his effectiveness. While he has had some notable successes, such as the return of 46 Indian nurses trapped in Iraq in 2014, the recurring terrorist attacks and strategic failures during his tenure underscore the challenges and shortcomings in his approach to national security.

Initial Successes Overshadowed by Recurring Failures

One of Doval’s early accomplishments was facilitating the return of Indian nurses trapped in a hospital in Tikrit, Iraq, following the capture of Mosul by ISIL. His proactive approach, including traveling to Iraq to understand the situation on the ground and engage with Iraqi authorities, led to the nurses’ safe return on July 5, 2014. This operation showcased Doval’s capabilities in crisis management and negotiation.

However, this early success has been overshadowed by a series of high-profile terrorist attacks that have occurred under his watch. These incidents include:

  • 2015 Gurdaspur Attack: On July 27, 2015, terrorists attacked a police station in Gurdaspur, Punjab, killing seven people. The attackers were eventually neutralized, but the incident highlighted ongoing security threats.
  • 2016 Pathankot Attack: On January 2, 2016, terrorists attacked the Pathankot Air Force Station, resulting in a prolonged gun battle. Seven security personnel and all six terrorists were killed, but the attack raised questions about the preparedness and response of security forces.
  • 2016 Uri Attack: On September 18, 2016, four terrorists attacked an Indian Army brigade headquarters in Uri, Jammu and Kashmir, killing 19 soldiers. This attack significantly escalated tensions between India and Pakistan.
  • 2019 Pulwama Attack: On February 14, 2019, a suicide bomber attacked a convoy of Indian paramilitary personnel in Pulwama, Jammu and Kashmir, killing 40 CRPF personnel. This was one of the deadliest attacks in the region and led to military escalations between India and Pakistan.
  • 2021 Pulwama Bombing: On June 18, 2021, a vehicle-borne IED blast in Pulwama injured several security personnel, highlighting the persistent security challenges in the region.
  • 2024 Reasi Attack: Recently, nine people were killed and 33 injured when a bus carrying pilgrims was attacked by terrorists and plunged into a gorge in Jammu and Kashmir’s Reasi district. This incident, coming as Prime Minister Narendra Modi took oath for a third term, drew sharp criticism from opposition parties and highlighted the deteriorating security situation.

Strategic Failures: Chinese Incursions and Manipur Violence

In addition to these terrorist attacks, Doval’s tenure has been marred by significant strategic failures, including Chinese incursions into Indian territory, amounting to a loss of 4,065 square kilometers of land​. This situation has raised serious concerns about India’s territorial integrity and the effectiveness of its strategic response under Doval’s leadership.

Moreover, the ongoing violence in Manipur and the conflict between the Meitei and Kuki tribes have further exposed the inadequacies in Doval’s approach to internal security. The conflict, driven by issues such as identity politics, land disputes, and the proliferation of narcotics and militant activities, has led to widespread violence and instability in the region​. The failure to effectively address these issues has had severe implications for India’s national security and socio-economic stability.

A Question of Priorities

While Doval has undoubtedly played crucial roles in various intelligence operations and crisis management scenarios, there are concerns that his focus may have shifted from core security issues to other political matters. His background as a seasoned intelligence officer with a reputation for being a “super spy” has not translated effectively into his role as NSA, where broader strategic oversight and coordination are required.

The repeated security lapses, terrorist attacks, and strategic failures suggest a failure in anticipating and mitigating threats effectively. Despite the government’s claims of improving security in Jammu and Kashmir following the abrogation of Article 370, the ground reality indicates a worsening law and order situation.

Time for Change

Ajit Doval’s contributions to India’s intelligence and security landscape are significant, but his tenure as NSA has been marred by repeated security failures. At 79, Doval may be facing age-related health issues, and it is perhaps time for a younger, more dynamic leader to take over this crucial role. The Indian security apparatus needs fresh perspectives and renewed energy to tackle the evolving threats effectively.

In conclusion, while Doval’s past achievements are commendable, his recent tenure as NSA reveals significant shortcomings. It is imperative for the country’s security that he steps down and makes way for new leadership capable of addressing the complex security challenges India faces today.

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