Many agencies, little intelligence

Over the years, investigations got compromised and pre-emptive measures botched up because of a multitude of agencies working at cross-purposes, reports Srinand Jha.

india Updated: Aug 30, 2007 03:43 IST
Srinand Jha
Srinand Jha
Hindustan Times

On Wednesday, the Hindustan Times reported how there was an urgent need for an anti-terror mechanism with powers cutting across state boundaries. Today we are telling you how, over the years, investigations got compromised and pre-emptive measures botched up because of a multitude of agencies working at cross-purposes. Here are some glaring examples:

The Intelligence wing of the Indian Air Force had conveyed advance information about the Purulia arms drop to both the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Mumbai Police. But when the aircraft that dropped the arms was force-landed in Mumbai on December 18, 1995, a goof-up happened. The kingpin, Kim Davey, managed to board a Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong. Till date, we haven’t been able to get him.

The activities of RAW Joint Secretary Ravinder Singh — suspected to be a double agent — were being monitored for several months. Singh fled to Nepal and there is still no information about his whereabouts.

Yasser Arafat had tipped off the then PM Chandra Shekhar about a plan to assassinate Rajiv Gandhi. But the tragedy of May 21, 1991 couldn’t be avoided.

Cadre rivalries and prestige issues among Intelligence agencies have repeatedly killed initiatives by successive governments to put in place processes for the sharing of “actionable information”.

For instance, the National Technical Research Organisation was set up in 2005 to gather and process technical intelligence. However, disagreement among top bosses in R&AW and IB on who would head it has rendered the body ineffective.

The challenge today is to set up a system of “intrusive intelligence" by creating a mechanism for gathering, analysing and sharing inputs on a national scale, said a senior intelligence official.

Against the youthful, educated and tech-savvy terrorist is pitted an ageing intelligence force, said another official.

Security expert Major General Afsir Karim (retd) is all for setting up a federal intelligence entity with footprints across India and in the neighborhood.

While the National Security Council (NSC) has remained concerned with policy and strategic issues, the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) has failed to emerge as a nodal body.

Over the years, the number of intelligence agencies in the country has multiplied. Besides R&AW, IB, Directorate of

Revenue Intelligence (DRI), Economic Intelligence Bureau (EIB) and Military Intelligence (MI) directorates of the three services, the paramilitary forces too are getting into the picture.

The BSF already has its G-Directorate, while plans are on the anvil for setting up Intelligence wings in the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). “The room is becoming crowded, but professionalism is on the decline,” said another intelligence expert, watching the developments.

First Published: Aug 30, 2007 03:41 IST