RAW, heading for decay
INDIAN intelligence agency, Re search and Analysis Wing (RAW) was created in 1968 to wage continuous secret battles against the regional countries. In this context, M. K Dhar in his book, “Open Secrets, India’s Intelligence Unveiled” points out, “RAW’s operations against the regional countries are conducted with great professional skill and expertise, which include the establishment of a huge network inside the target countries. It has used propaganda, political dissent, ethnic divisions, economic backwardness and criminal elements to foment subversion and terrorism to weaken these states in consonance with Indian regional ambitions.”
However, application of these nefarious designs varies from country to country. In this regard, dismemberment of Pakistan, interference of RAW in Sikkim, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Tibetan regions etc. might be cited as instance. Although RAW has still been exploiting every sinister trick to poke its nose in internal affairs of India’s neighbouring countries, yet it has been faced with embarrassing fiascos and national security failures, especially due to the defections from within its ranks and owing to the unexplainable despair, haunting its senior officials.
On April 17, 2016, it was reported that three officers of RAW, “willingly fled” to a large Western country which has a history of accepting and facilitating such disappearances of Indian intelligence officers. All were posted on senior levels and had shifted their families to that Western country much before they themselves disappeared. Two of the officers were handling two South Asian countries, while the third was handling a large East Asian country. It is assumed that all three were working for the Western countries for long and in all likelihood passed on vital information before disappearing.
This is not for the first time that officers working for the Indian spy agency have “willingly disappeared”. As per official records, since the creation of the agency in 1968, nine such like instances have been reported with the famous defection case of Rabinder Singh (Joint secretary in RAW) defecting to the United States in 2004. Most of the other agents had defected, while they were posted in Western Europe or North America.
Apart from defections, RAW is also plagued by other problems identified as over bureaucratization of the system with allegations about favouritism in promotions, corruption, ego clashes, no financial accountability, inter-departmental rivalry etc. The agency also suffers from ethnic imbalances in the officer cadre. The agency officials have also developed strong tendency to manipulate their status for unlawful activities. A former chief Ashok Chaturvedi is accused of utilizing funds for personal/family leisure trips. Many officials have suffered seriously at the hands of senior officials on sexual harassment as well. On August 19, 2008, a female Director (Language), namely Ms. Bhatia who had served as head of RAW Training Institute in Gurgaon, tried to commit suicide in front of Prime Minister’s Office, alleging inaction and wrong findings of a sexual harassment complaint, filed against a joint secretary, who was on deputation to RAW. In order to conceal his crime, she was discharged from duty on the ground that she was mentally unfit.
Another factor attributing to the defections of the agency is low wages as compared to other departments of the Indian government. It has been reported that the salary and other benefits of intelligence officials are at par with the state police and clerks. Moreover, risk allowance in both the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and RAW has been reduced to 15 percent, whereas central agencies like Central Bureau of Intelligence (CBI) get at least 25 per cent risk allowance. Indian government under BJP has tried to appease the growing frustration in the ranks of RAW and IB officials by announcing a revision of their pay structure; however, the claim still need materialization.
It is also acknowledged by the Indian officials that domestic intelligence agency is facing a shortage of over 7,000 skilled professionals to generate and disseminate crucial intelligence input. According to government figures released in 2013, IB had only 18,795 personnel against the sanctioned strength of 26,867 officers. External spy agency RAW has strength of around 9,000 officers, including field agents serving on deputation. The RAW cadre is shrinking by the day and in 2012 the agency was forced to seek the help of Department of Personnel & Training to tide over the manpower shortage.
As regards the sinister plots of RAW in targeting neighbouring countries—particularly Pakistan is of special focus, which has deepened the negative image of the Indian intelligence agency. In this respect, the role of India in destabilizing Pakistan has become naked after the arrest of Kulbhushan Yadav, on March 24, 2016. Yadav openly admitted that he was the serving agent of Indian secret agency RAW in Balochistan province, and during his stay, he contacted various Baloch separatist leaders and insurgents, including Dr Allah Nazar Baloch, to execute the task to damage the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project (CPEC).
Yadav confessed that he was assigned with the task to create unrest in Karachi and Balolchitan to destabilize Pakistan and to target the Gwadar Port. Nevertheless, RAW has been exploiting sub-nationalists, mass murder of innocent civilians like Hazaras, Balochis, extremist organizations etc. for spread of terrorism in Pakistan.
Besides, based in Afghanistan, RAW in connivance with the Afghan intelligence-National Directorate of Security (NDS), has been supporting subversive activities in Pakistan. In this connection, RAW-NDS nexus has been promoting extremist terrorist organizations like Aghanistan-based Daesh or ISIS, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), Jundollah (God’s soldiers) etc. in weakening Pakistan, its Province of Balochistan, Tibetan regions of China, and Sistan-Balochistan of Iran.
And, due to growing influence of a particular group of Indian Police Services (IPS) and Indian Army over RAW, this intelligence organization is rapidly turning into a “Hindu fascist” entity, promoting and supporting Hindu radicalization of Indian society in collaboration with the extremist outfits like RSS, BJP, Bajrang Dal, VHP etc. Nonetheless, it is owing to these reasons that Indian RAW is rapidly heading towards decay. — The writer is freelance columnist based in Lahore.