New Delhi, July 23 (IANS) Fearing
that the CIA might use counter-terrorism meetings to recruit
Indian intelligence operatives, New Delhi has restricted
agency-to-agency contacts with Washington, says a new book.
Scholar Prem Mahadevan says that unlike the 1970s when India was a
virtual socialist state, the hunger for government jobs has fallen
considerably since the Indian economy opened up in 1991.
"Today, middle-ranking IB (Intelligence Bureau) and RAW (Research
and Analysis Wing) officers are vulnerable to enticement by
well-funded foreign intelligence agencies - a factor which has
constrained counter-terrorism cooperation post 9/11."
Mahadevan's book, "The Politics of Counterterrorism in India" (I.B.
Tauris), says the fears are not altogether unfounded.
It reveals that since 2001, there have been at least two cases of
penetration of RAW by the American Central Intelligence Agency
"Also, at least nine RAW officers have gone abroad without leave
since the agency's creation in 1968. Most defected while posted in
Western Europe or North America, in pursuit of a more comfortable
"Subsequent investigations revealed that they had been recruited
by Western intelligence agencies prior to their defection and had
functioned as agents in place for some time."
The book says that particularly damaging was the defection of
Sikander Lal Malik, a personal aide to RAW chief Rameshwar Nath
"Malik defected during the 1970s while posted to the US and is
alleged to have taken extremely sensitive information with him."
Although Indian intelligence agencies have committed blunders, the
book says, they are also responsible for some spectacular
Despite official sympathy for the Palestinian cause, the agencies
prevented anti-Israeli attacks on Indian soil that became common
in Europe in the 1970s.
And in the years after the Iranian revolution of 1979, the IB and
RAW together rounded up and deported dozens of Iranian and Iraqi
terrorists intent on killing each other in India.
The IB, it says, "deserves credit for its successes in
neturalising the threat from foreign intelligence agencies".
It says RAW once tapped the telephone of then Pakistan Prime
Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto "but the agency could only hear his
end of the conversation and had to guess what the other party was
The book, however, says infiltrating into jehadi networks has
become nearly impossible because of the very low number of Muslims
in the Indian intelligence.
"The RAW does not have a single Muslim in its 10,000-strong
manpower pool while the IB has a small number of Muslims.
"These operatives did a sterling job of raising new informer
networks in Jammu and Kashmir during the 1990s... Despite their
performance, the IB and RAW remain averse to employing Muslims,
preferring to invest in technical collection."
Contrary to public knowledge, Indian intelligence agencies have
faced budget cuts, the book says.
The RAW budget was slashed by 10 percent when P.V. Narasimha Rao
was prime minister, denying it two badly needed reconnaissance
aircraft. Also during Rao's term, a further 20 percent cut hit
The book accuses then prime minister Morarji Desai of seriously
damaging RAW because of his allergy to his predecessor Indira
Gandhi, who founded the agency. Desai, it says, forced some of
RAW's "most distinguished officers" into retirement, forced it to
stop hiring new recruits, cut its strength by a third, and shut
down its offices in Jaipur and Chandigarh.
Because of Desai, RAW's agent networks inside Pakistan, including
those in Pakistani Kashmir, were deactivated "and were never
"During a conversation with the Pakistani president in 1978, he
let slip that RAW had penetrated the Pakistani nuclear plant at
Kahuta. The Indian agent on-site was identified and eliminated."