The former Director of the Intelligence Bureau, A.K. Doval, writes:
My friends from different parts of India have drawn my attention to your editorial, “Moment of truth for India” (Feb. 8, 2014), which stated that I had “candidly said” the operation that led the President of India to award the coveted Kirti Chakra to me involved “the killing of a Pakistani spy, the illegal detention of terrorism suspects and smuggling across international borders.”
This is a totally false and fabricated statement. The reason for conferring the Kirti Chakra on me is no secret and was published in the Gazette notification issued by Rashtrapati Bhavan on January 26, 1989. Your version is in no way related to it.
No one in the last 25 years has ever challenged or even remotely cast any aspersion on the award of the Kirti Chakra to me. Earlier, the Indian Police Medal was awarded to me, as a one-time exception in six years of service — a national record that I still hold. At that point, Pakistan had not even launched its terrorist offensive against India. It has also been wrongly asserted in the editorial that the source of the offending words was my “candid” statement, which is false and baseless. This cannot be a normal slip which occurs in day-to-day and overnight journalism, because editorials are written after careful verification of facts and contemplation. Therefore, the facts on which editorials are based are believed by readers as needing no further verification. In effect, an editorial implicitly testifies to the facts on which it is based. The false statements in the impugned editorial can be quoted by others as “evidence” in future. You can imagine the extent of damage the impugned editorial has the potential to cause to my reputation but, more importantly, to the national institutions engaged in the security of our country and the safety of its people.
Along with me, the Kirti Chakra is also demeaned — which is a national disservice. It must be understood that citations for gallantry awards are approved only after due verification and vetting at various levels in the government. Therefore, questioning the basis for the presentation of gallantry awards not only undermines state institutions, including the highest office in the country, but can also adversely impact the morale of the security forces. Additionally, as one with experience on the subject, I would like to add that the contention in your editorial that “every time” intelligence agencies “run trans-border operations or plant moles in terrorist groups, they break the law,” betrays poor understanding both of law and national security.
I was shocked even more because this editorial appeared in The Hindu, which has a nationwide reputation for reliability and credibility. The more credible a newspaper, the more harm and damage any false statement in it causes to the injured person — which in this case happens to be me.
The Hindu regrets the error and conveys its apologies to Mr. Doval. — Editor-in-Chief