Spy service

The arrest of an Indian diplomat working in the country’s high commission in Islamabad on charges of spying for Pakistan is a matter of serious concern. The arrested diplomat, Madhuri Gupta, is not a high-ranking official and may not have been able to pass on very important information to her Pakistani contacts. Yet it is admitted that she gave away sensitive information. Espionage is a fact of international life and all countries resort to it. But it is a serious matter when diplomats themselves become spies for other countries. The Indian high commission in Islamabad is the most important and secure among the country’s missions abroad.

The fact that even that mission was infiltrated does no credit to our counter-intelligence set-up. Well, she was found out but, according to reports, it was when the counter-intelligence people were on some other trail and because she was a bit indiscreet. A cleverer person may have been able to avoid detection.

There have been other cases of defence or diplomatic personnel working against the interests of the country. A week before the information about Madhuri became public it was revealed that a senior naval officer who had been stationed in Russia in connection with the Gorshkov deal may have fallen prey to a honeytrap. He is being investigated for his actions, and the possibility of his role in the escalation of Gorshkov’s price is not being ruled out. In 2004, a RAW officer who was working for the CIA, managed to leave the country for the US when he was under surveillance. Other RAW agents have also been found compromised.

While counter-intelligence efforts should aim at preventing hostile espionage activities in any area and at all levels, special attention must be paid to preventing infiltration of sensitive and important sections of the government and government agencies. Madhuri, according to reports, was unhappy with the way junior officers were treated by senior officials in the foreign service, and her and discontent made her vulnerable. That is absolutely no justification for her treasonable conduct. But it is necessary to ensure that  members of the diplomatic service do not have any complaints related to service or the conduct of their superiors. Similar problems have been reported from RAW also. No organisation is immune to politics, but the room for it should be minimised in sensitive departments and agencies, so that unseemly consequences like this can be avoided.

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