Srinagar: Master strategist that he is, national security adviser Ajit Doval, who is otherwise a behind-the-scenes bureaucrat, is now being seen all over Kashmir, especially in terror hotspots like Shopian, Anantnag and even downtown Srinagar. He is shown chatting with locals, having lunch with them and cracking a joke or two even as an uneasy calm prevails in the Valley.

While the security apparatus is on edge each time he ventures out in these sensitive areas in the past few days, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s blue-eyed boy appears to be taking no chances, and is taking his own precautions. It is learnt that Mr Doval goes into troubled areas only after donning a bulletproof jacket.

Highly-pla-ced security sources told this newspaper that when Mr Doval visited Shopian, Anantnag or downtown Srinagar, he had on a bulletproof jacket over which he wore his shirt. The top bureaucrat was seen wearing a blazer or a half-coat, which seemed a bit strange given the hot weather that Kashmir is now experiencing.

“Never has an NSA gone out into troubled areas of Kashmir and interacted and mingled with locals. While there is a lockdown and all areas are shut, the NSA takes his own precautions,” is all that a senior police official would say, not confirming or denying whether Mr Doval wears a bullet-proof jacket as he moves around to show all is normal in the troubled state.

Sources said while Mr Doval normally does not wear protective gear, “this is an extraordinary situation and all precautions ought to be taken… he is the NSA, we cannot leave anything to chance,” another top official said.

Mr Doval, a former director of the Intelligence Bureau and the brain behind several counter-terrorism strategies, including “surgical strikes” on Pakistan, is the man who is said to have laid the ground for implementing the Modi government’s scrapping of Article 370 and bifurcation of the state. Over the last six days, he has been camping in Srinagar, and visiting different parts of the Valley to send across the message that all is well.