Rohit Kumar's Views

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Posts Tagged ‘CBI

India can’t do a ‘Geronimo’

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Lt Gen Harwant Singh (retd).

Consequent to American operation ‘Geronimo,’ at Abbottabad in Pakistan to eliminate Osama bin Laden, many in civil society have been asking whether India can go ahead with a similar operation. ‘Geronimo’ involved painstaking intelligence work spread over many years, though the final ‘fine- tuning’ took seven months or so. Detailed intelligence work and application of cutting edge technology apart, it required an enormous amount of co-ordination among those in the higher echelons of the civil administration and military high command as well as with the one who was to control the mission. The entire planning was closely monitored by the Chiefs of Defence Staff, the CIA chief and the President himself, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces.

For months they worked on the plan, disseminating information strictly following the principle, ‘need to know’. A mock-up of the ‘Osama house’ would have been erected and an operation rehearsed a number of times by the designated team of helicopter crews and Seals, and the latter had otherwise been undergoing one of the most vigorous training schedules. Only then was it possible to complete the mission with clock-work precision. It was the President who had to take the final call and gave written orders.

Since intelligence is the most essential input for such an operation, can Indian intelligence agencies measure up to this basic requirement? Weaknesses of Indian intelligence have repeatedly surprised the nation, be it the Chinese road across Ladakh, the scale of aggression in 1962, and mass infiltration in 1965 in J and K followed by the attack in Chamb-Jorian. Kargil was a major intelligence failure and so was the attack on Parliament where there were security lapses too. It was repeated at Mumbai, in spite of some early leads. More recent are the cases of lists of terrorists in Pakistan and the CBI team arriving in Copenhangen with an out-dated warrant of arrest. The list is endless.

Accurate and actionable intelligence is fundamental to the success of covert operations, whereas it remains our weakest point. In fact, in the case of Indian intelligence agencies, it is not the case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing but the little finger not knowing whom the index finger, of the same hand, is fingering?

At the national level we have the NSG, especially trained and equipped for such operations. At Mumbai these commandos first took too long to arrive and later too long to complete the operation. Equally, are the NSG commandos equal to the job? Just recall the visuals of a commando holding his weapon well above his head and firing at supposedly some terrorists! This visual was repeatedly shown on the American TV, where we saw the drama unfold. The NSG was commanded by an army officer, invariably an ex-commando, but now it is a police officer with no ground-level experience of commando operations. Grabbing jobs, irrespective of the suitability of the appointee, is another feature of Indian setting.

There was no centralised control over the operation and the entire scene around Taj Hotel appeared one of a ‘circus,’ with apparently no one knowing what to do. The details of ammunition and grenades expended by the commandos in this action would give an idea of the operation and our suspicion of possible collateral damage.

Both the Indian Navy and the Indian Army have special forces which can carry out missions of the type conducted by the US naval Seals at Abbottabad. They are organised and trained for such missions and have the best of leadership. Quality of intelligence inputs apart, it is the joint operations where more than one service is to take part and then problems arise. There are major fault-lines in the field of coordination and meshing together of various aspects of such an operation between the two Services taking part in the operation. This lack of ‘joint-ship’ has been the bane of Indian defence forces, which essentially is the handiwork of the politic-bureaucratic combine. The policy of ‘divide and rule’, and ‘turf-tending’ over national interest has been the dominant feature of the Indian defence apparatus.

In the case of the Abbattobad raid, in spite of the complete integration of the defence forces in the United States, the Naval Seals had their own helicopters to ensure total involvement and commitment of those taking part in the operation. In the case of India, helicopters meant for carrying such troops are with the Indian Air Force rather than the Army! So, the total commitment required on the part of all those taking part in the operation will not measure up to the level required in an operation of the type conducted at Abbottabad. In fact, discord has often appeared when two Services had to operate together. It surfaced in rather an ugly form during the Kargil operations.

In the Indian political setting, a clear direction and the will to go for the kill will continue to be lacking. At Kargil, troops were told to carry out a ‘hot pursuit,’ but were forbidden to cross the Line of Control. This is when Pakistan had violated, on a very wide front and to great depth, India’s territorial integrity and the situation called for and justified a befitting response. However, India’s timid and inappropriate reaction resulted in frontal attacks up those impossible slopes, with avoidable casualties. Pakistan suffered no punishment for its blatant act of aggression. Consequent to attack on Indian Parliament, ‘Operation Parakaram’ kept the troops in their battle locations for months and ended in a fiasco. Indian reaction to these two incidents conveyed to Pakistan that it can take liberties with India and the latter carries no deterrence for the former. At the same time, it demonstrated that Indian political leadership will never have the stomach to order an operation of the ‘Geronimo’ type, no matter how provocative the action of the other country may be.

Civil society has suddenly woken up and is now seeking answers to searching questions on these issues, having closed its eyes and switched off its mind to national security issues all these decades. The inescapable fact is that the full potential of various components of the defence forces just cannot be realised without adopting the concepts of Chiefs of Defence Staff and “Theater Commands” along with the integration of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Services headquarters on the lines of the Pentagon. What has currently been carried out by way of amalgamation of Defence Headquarters with the MoD is a joke and a fraud on the nation. Yet civil society has remained a silent spectator. The Arun Singh Committee Report continues to gather dust, as it stands consigned to the archives of the Indian government.

Besides the above fault-lines in the Indian security establishment, it is the watertight compartments in which various organs of the state work. Foreign policy is evolved and practised in isolation of national security considerations and consultations. Intelligence agencies are never made accountable and have inadequate interaction with the defence Services.

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Rajasthan cops arrest witness in Mecca Masjid case

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The Times of India

HYDERABAD: A prosecution witness in the Mecca Masjid bomb blast case, Bharat Mohanlal Rateshwar, 43, was arrested recently by the Rajasthan Anti-Terrorism Squad (RATS) on charges of his role in the Ajmer Dargah bombing.

According to sources, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had picked up Rateshwar in connection with the Mecca Masjid case a few months ago and grilled him. In view of his knowledge of the vital portions of the case, the CBI offered to make him a prosecution witness to which he had agreed. Soon after, the CBI arrested the key terror plotter Swami Aseemanand from near Haridwar in the same case and brought him to the city.

Fearing that the Swami might spill the beans and name him in other bombing cases, Rateshwar took to his heels and disappeared from the police radar. His fears came true when the Swami spoke about his role in Ajmer Dargah bomb blast case to the RATS.

In the meantime, the RATS also gathered more evidence against Rateshwar on its own in the Dargah case and intensified the manhunt. He was finally arrested last week and produced in Ajmer district court.

Sources said that the CBI has cited Rateshwar as the PW 113 in the Calendar of Oral Evidence and also recorded his statement. The CBI chargesheet filed against the two accused __ Devender Gupta and Lokesh Sharma __ in the Mecca Masjid case said that Rateshwar has given a statement to the agency, which corroborates the facts of the chargesheet and would prove that on October 11, 2007 Sunil Joshi (another accused in the case who was murdered later) phoned and told him that the Ajmer blast was triggered by him with the knowledge of Indresh Kumar, a senior RSS leader.

The chargesheet further said that Rateshwar would also prove that Swami Aseemanand and Sunil Joshi were close to each other and that the Swami had provided shelter to Joshi after the Ajmer blast.

Sources said that the RATS could also make Rateshwar a witness as he has been involved with the gang that carried out bombings at various places in the country during last about six years.

Leaked CBI documents: Militants to target Foreign Nationals at Commonwealth Games in New Delhi

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Siyast Aur Pakistan

Naxalite separatist militants will be targetting foreign nationals and athletes in next week’s Commonwealth Games in New Delhi – according to TOP SECRET documents leaked to PKKH from New Delhi’s Central Bureau of Investigation, Special Crime Unit.

The reports identify two separate militant groups, one of which has come under the radar as recently as 18th of September, as the athletes and forward teams start arriving in New Delhi.

LEAKED INTELLIGENCE DOCUMENTS FROM CENTRAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, NEW DELHI

The militant groups are said to have been supplied with explosives, gelatin sticks and detonators by ‘a large network’, related to the August 27th incident in Madhya Pradesh where a hundred and sixty three (163) trucks laden with explosives went missing. NDTV reported at the time the trucks were loaded with detonators and gelatine sticks which were being sent from the government’s Dholpur Factory in Rajasthan to Chanderi and Sagar town in Madhya Pradesh.

Both companies are owned by Jaikishan Aswani, who has close links with extremist Hindu militant groups.

With barely days to go before the start of the Commonwealth Games, the leak of these documents is bound to raise serious doubts over the security and threat perception for the games, already reeling from planning and construction issues as well as the pull-out of leading international athletes citing security and hygeine concerns.

On Tuesday, September 21st, an Australian television news crew managed to enter the main games arena carrying a suitcase with an explosives detonation kit without being stopped.

The Channel 7 journalist who also filmed blackmarket explosives on sale near New Delhi, walked into the venue carrying the case, capable of triggering upto 200 explosions if fitted with a detonator, without attracting suspicion.

The Indian government has asked the army to be on alert in view of the Commonwealth Games. The alert was sounded after several nations raised security concerns following the September 19 Jama Masjid shooting in which two Taiwanese tourists were injured and a bomb went off in a car near the firing spot.

However, the fact that this latest information regarding the naxalite plans to specifically target foreign nationals and athletes has come to light this late, security officials are said to be horrified at what lies in wait as athletes start arriving in Delhi for the games.

‘We knew there would be threats and we had covered most of the ground where we saw these threats coming from. However this new information is absolutely devastating since we just do not know enough at this stage to be able to confidently reassure the public that the games will go on without incident. All we know is that there are people intent on killing the foreign nationals and that they have the means to do so. There is a serious amount of explosives and detonation kits channeled into Delhi specifically for these games’, said a security official to PKKH on condition of anonymity.

650 Indians put on Interpol’s wanted list

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NEW DELHI: The number of Indians or people of Indian origin on Interpol’s ‘wanted’ list is on the rise with 656 of them getting red-alert notices in little over five years.

The global crime monitoring organisation has issued 656 red-alert notices against Indians or people of Indian origin between January 2005 and May 2010, generally for crimes committed in countries other than India.

A highest of 150 red notices were issued last year while the number stood at 75 in the first five months of this year.

Many of these wanted people are involved in acts of terrorism or serious crimes like rape of a minor.

A red alert or red corner notice obliges immigration and police forces of all member countries to arrest the person concerned and inform the authorities in his home country, or the country where the crime was committed.

Interpol is the world’s largest international police organisation, with 188 member countries.

A total of 133 notices wee issued in 2007 while the number stood at 119 in 2006.

About 85 such notices were drawn in 2008 and 94 others in 2005, the CBI, which acts as a nodal agency for international policing in India, said in reply to an RTI query.

The countries where the largest number of offences have been reported include Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Oman, USA, Hong Kong, Russia, Belarus, Egypt, Australia and Belgium.

The offences include money laundering, tax evasion, sexual harassment, disrupting railway traffic, mail fraud and demanding dowry. At least 25 per cent of the offences relate to overspeeding and road accidents.

Exercising his Right to Information, Ashwini Shrivastava had asked for details of red alert notice issued against people of Indian origin in the past five years including the details of offences.

One of the Interpol notices names Haji Ibrahim Salim for alleged involvement in a terrorist act, Shaikh Anwar for allegedly waging war against a country, Kochipeedikayil Shabeerkayil, Sabir Kochipeedikayil and Nazir Thadipeedikayil for planting an explosive, Shaja Khan for allegedly planting a bomb and Iqbal Bhatkal for his alleged involvement in unlawful activities, it said.

Black day for us, says survivor

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NEW DELHI: Activists and survivors of the Bhopal gas tragedy have slammed Monday’s verdict in the case against eight former Union Carbide India executives as “meaningless” at best, and a deadly “insult” at worst. Many warned that it signals an indifference to justice when corporate bigwigs are involved.


ENDURING THE PAINSurvivors of the Bhopal gas tragedy staging a demonstration outside the court in Bhopal on Monday.

“This is a black day for us,” said Abdul Jabbar, a survivor who now heads the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan. He vowed that the verdict would be appealed in the High Court. But with the system taking quarter of a century to deliver its first verdict in the criminal case, both the survivors and the guilty could be dead by the time justice is served, he said.

“They have reduced the world’s worst industrial disaster into a traffic accident,” said Satinath Sarangi, an activist with the Bhopal Group for Information and Action, commenting on the lightness of the sentence. Since the Supreme Court had diluted the charges from “culpable homicide” to “death by negligence” in 1996, this was the maximum sentence possible.

Activist Nityanand Jayaraman said the CBI’s “mishandling of the case” would be “tantamount to dereliction of duty,” and that even if the CBI did not appeal the verdict, the people would do so.

“There is a strong sense of betrayal, but also of foreboding. The government is sending a signal to investors that they can come here, run their companies however they please with a minimum of regulation, and if something goes wrong, at worst, they will get a rap on their knuckles.”

Noting that the government kept Bhopal citizens out of the courtroom as a preventive measure, activist Rachna Dhingra said: “It was the people who were treated like criminals. The real criminals were escorted in by police, they were treated like VIPs and now they have walked free. The government considers the lives of some people more expendable than others.”

“The government is saying there will be no punishment for big foreign companies,” said Mr. Jabbar, who warned that the Nuclear Liability Bill was an indication of the same attitude.

Rethink Nuclear Liability Bill: BJP

Opposition political parties took up his refrain. “There is a lesson in this,” said BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad, who said the government should appeal the verdict.

“After this bitter experience, the government should rethink its plans for the Nuclear Liability Bill.”

CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat agreed. “If the justice system is so weak, as proven by this verdict, then it is horrifying to think what will happen if there is a nuclear accident,” she said.

Probe infirmities in CBI, says Brinda

The government should look into the infirmities in the CBI which led to such a diluted verdict, and appeal in the higher court, she added.