Ex-Raw officer criticises agency through novel
Reveals counter-intelligence operation
The latest work of fiction on RAW, authored by a former officer of the country’s external intelligence, authored is about intense rivalry among intelligence and enforcement agencies for sending their men abroad in embassies for liaison ending up in exposing exposing assets and covert ops.
The novel - “Escape To Nowhere” - written by former RAW special secretary Amar Bhushan based on the true story of his colleague Rabinder Singh fleeing to the US in 2004 -- contains interesting nuggets of inside information that that should nudge the intelligence apparatus into some self-correction.
Bhusahn prefers to call the RAW he served as “the Agency” and tells through fictional characters the real counter-intelligence operation placing his own former joint secretary Rabinder Singh under surveillance. Singh is introduced as “Mr Ravi Mohan”, a senior analyst of the far-eastern branch of the Agency. The US intelligence agency, the CIA, had managed to compromise Singh in order to ferret out highly classified information from the RAW.
And when Singh-Ravi Mohan is exposed by preying eyes of his own colleagues, they plan his great escape, obviously with the tacit connivance of some US moles at the top echelons in the NDA government.
Bhushan is critical of some previous RAW chiefs, whom he describes as “expatriats” since they were not drawn form the agencies’ own cadre, for what he claims of “turning the security environment within upside down by expanding the liaison network indiscriminately”.
Over the period of time more “exotic locations” were added for posting undercover operative in high commissions and embassies though the intelligence outfits of those foreign countries had little to contribute to expanding or securing national interests.
Surprisingly, the decisions were taken to accommodate increasing clamouring for foreign travel by agency officials and their wives, the book remarks. “In the process, a large number of officers were exposed to the suborning overtures of foreign intelligence operatives, for whom it became much easier to identify Agency’s officers and track down footprints of their sensitive operations,” Bhushan writes. Such “glasnost” also paved way for officers, who are willing to be recruited as agents to satisfy their “weakness for money, gifts, scholarships and good time”.
Serving RAW officials do not deny the assertions made in the book. Though the RAW remains the espionage organisation authorised to interact with their foreign counterparts, the glamour and fat pay and perks that come with liaison exploits has been the envy for other government agencies. The Intelligence Bureau, CBI, Enforcement Directorate Ministry of External Affairs, Home Ministry and the defence intelligence agencies started interacting with foreign spys without being trained to handle complex, shady, dark underbelly of the world of espionage.
The book implies that the RAW opposed tooth and nail FBI’s opening office in New Delhi and Indian agencies going to foreign stations and attend sub-standard courses and seminars offered by intelligence agencies off shore.