Balakot air strikes planner is new R&AW chief, Kashmir expert appointed IB chief
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has appointed Samant Kumar Goel as the next chief of India’s external spy agency, Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) and Arvinda Kumar as the Director, Intelligence Bureau. PM Modi, as chairman of the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, also cleared the empanelment of 1986 batch IPS officer in the rank of Director General.
Both are Indian Police Service officers of 1984 batch with Goel belonging to Punjab cadre and Kumar, to Assam-Meghalaya cadre.
The two officers will take over this month-end when the extended tenure of IB chief Rajiv Jain and R&AW secretary Anil K Dhasmana ends. Jain and Dhasmana were appointed in December 2016 and were given a six-month extension as the country moved into election mode.
By Wednesday evening, the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet also issued the orders appointing the two officers on a two-year term. Anil Dhasmana’s term expires on 30 June while Rajiv Jain will step down a day earlier, on 29 June.
Goel heads operations for the external intelligence agency.
The senior police officer was instrumental in planning the February 2019 Balakot air strikes and the 2016 surgical strikes carried out after the terror attack at Uri brigade, the two strikes that have defined the NDA government’s approach to counter terror emanating from the neighbouring country.
Goel has handled Punjab militancy at its peak in the 1990s and is a Pakistan expert. A mild-mannered police officer, Samant Goel has impeccable integrity, said a senior R&AW officer.
Arvind Kumar has been closely involved in tackling left-wing extremism at the Intelligence Bureau. The special director-rank officer is also the intelligence agency’s Kashmir expert and has been closely involved in formulating and executing the Centre’s approach on terrorism in the valley.
Kumar, who started out his career in the police service from Assam, had moved to the intelligence bureau early in his career after a stint as superintendent of police of Sonitpur, one of the state’s largest districts. He never went back to Assam police and continued to work at the Centre, mostly at the intelligence agency.
Samant Goel, in contrast, spent a considerable part of his career in Punjab where he was posted to oversee security, intelligence and the border range. The IPS officer came to Delhi on his first assignment at R&AW in 2001 and has stayed back.