Sunday, October 16, 2016

Do Not Sell Your Soul

                                                       DO NOT SELL YOUR SOUL

One can understand, though not condone, freelance biographers and journalists indulging in mud slinging and character assassination to make a quick buck but not officers holding very senior positions in intelligence and investigation agencies. It amounts to ‘selling’ the secrets as the compelling motive is lure of the lucre compounded with self-glorification and instant publicity. Unfortunately more and more of them can be seen succumbing to this temptation.
Those connected with CBI, Intelligence Bureau and RAW have been the worst culprits. Some books that come to mind readily are Inside CBI by its former Director Joginder Singh; Open Secrets: India’s Intelligence Unveiled by Maloy Krishna Dhar, a former Joint Director of IB; India’s External Intelligence: Secrets of Research and Analysis Wing by Maj Gen V.K. Singh; and the latest scoop Kaoboys of R&AW – Down the memory lane by B. Raman, a former Additional Secretary of RAW The authors may claim that they are merely bringing out into the open the anomalies in their respective organisations’s lack of accountability, transparency and effective leadership. What comes out is their lack of objectivity, their own hurt and bruised ego.
Joginder Singh writes that pressure was exerted on him to register a case against Ms Jayalalitha and to block Laloo Prasad Yadav's arrest in the notorious fodder scam case. Among his other ‘disclosures’ Maj Gen V.K.Singh has zeroed in on the well publicised release of Kargil tapes by the NDA govt to the then Pak Premier Nawaz Sharif and has questioned the ethics, wisdom and legality of this action. He attacks RAW with no holds barred.

Maloy Dhar blatantly vents his ire against the then Director IB who is presently the National Security Advisor and the reference is not veiled. Dhar calling his former boss spineless and self-serving is in poor taste and smacks of nursing a personal grudge. He refers to some instances of phone tapping. He writes about much else which is either in bad taste or violation of the Official Secrets Act.

The latest to join the race is B. Raman, a former Additional Secretary of RAW, and he surpasses the others. Look at some snippets from his book. That RAW should have been in touch with America's CIA, UK’s MI6 and other foreign agencies is only in the fitness of things and is hardly a startling revelation. If Raw had a mole in the office of Gen Yahiya Khan Pakistan returned the compliment by fomenting trouble (insurgency) in Punjab in collusion with CIA. Raman does drop a bombshell when he blames the domestic arm, the Intelligence Bureau, for ignoring a crucial input from German intelligence which might have prevented Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination.

Such books dish out salacious gossip and earn good money, besides making the authors the darling of the media for a time. These are based on the author’s personal knowledge or ‘classified’ documents access to which is not permitted even under the RTI Act. Most of what has been said thus remains beyond verification but the unsuspecting public laps it all up. The contents have gone unchallenged by the persons directly or indirectly accused in the book and by that amorphous body called government. There can be state secrets and divulging them may jeopardise national security. It is for that reason that the Right to Information Act, 05 has exempted the intelligence services from its purview. At times these also relate to the conduct of prominent public figures and it is questionable whether washing their dirty linen in public is going to help the society. That our intelligence agencies – be it CBI, IB or RAW – are used as a political tool is an open secret but an insider’s account of factionalism within these organisations or the ongoing turf war between our internal and external intelligence agencies is likely to undermine people’s faith in them.

Books such as these raise issues of ethics, conduct rules and law. The sleuth is expected to be anonymous, with lips sealed but eyes and ears open. All of us who have served in such positions are repositories of state secrets. We swore not to let them out, much less sell them. We held that kind of information in trust and to make it public is downright unethical and a breach of trust. It is not understood why the government shies away from invoking the Official Secrets Act and prosecute such offenders. If they have also violated the Conduct Rules, their pension may be forfeited. If necessary, the OS Act and the conduct rules should be amended to make them more comprehensive and stringent. There is a rule prohibiting government servants from accepting private employment within two years of their retirement. Why can’t there be a rule that an employee cannot publish accounts of his service days till, say, ten years of hanging up his boots? Maulana Abul Kalam Azad stipulated that some pages from his book India Wins Freedom could be published not before thirty years after his death. Too much secrecy can be counterproductive and some degree of public accountability can be achieved by having a parliamentary committee oversee the performance of our intelligence agencies, like in US and UK.

(Sudhir Kumar Jha)

(The author is a former Director General of Police, Bihar. He can be contacted at