Home My Corner Too many, too little
My Corner

Too many, too little

It is high time the intelligence agencies are not used for political intelligence gathering, which has no relevance to national security


As is well known, intelligence is a military and/or government term referring to the infor term referring to the information used in making decisions. Intelligence can be gathered from any source, suitably assessed and processed according to established methods. Intelligence gathering (including espionage) is done through what are popularly known as intelligence agencies. An intelligence agency is a government agency responsible for the collection, analysis, and exploitation of information and intelligence in support of law enforcement, national security, defence and foreign policy objectives. Means of information gathering are both overt and covert and may include espionage, communication interception and so on. Intelligence agencies can provide many services for their national governments including provision of analysis in areas relevant to national security, give early warning of impending crises, protect sensitive information,
and so on.

Intelligence agencies can provide many services for their national governments including provision of analysis in areas relevant to national security, give early warning of impending crises, protect sensitive information, and so on.

Every nation today has a large number of intelligence agencies of all kinds. The list of India’s intelligence agencies include Joint Intelligence Committee, Defence Intelligence, internal security agencies like Intelligence Bureau, National Investigation Agency (NIA), Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and economic intelligence agencies like Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Economic Intelligence Council, etc. Of these intelligence agencies, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) is related with internal intelligence work, but no official information about the IB is provided by the Government of India, which can be contrasted to the situation in the Us and UK where even such allegedly extremely secret organisations like the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) and secret Intelligence service (sIs) have their website which provides so much information to the public.. The only information about IB on the Ministry of Home Affairs website is that it is a Central Police organisation along with others like CBI, NIA, BPRD, NCRB, etc. similarly there is no information about the UP state Intelligence organisation on the website of UP Government or the UP Police. Both IB and state Intelligence are also exempt under section 24 of the Right to Information Act 2005. Whatever information is available about IB comes from unofficial channels which say that IB is reputedly the world’s oldest intelligence agency and in 1885, Major General sir Charles MacGregor was appointed Quartermaster General and head of the Intelligence Department for the British Indian Army at simla, which later developed into the IB. One particular aspect alleged to be related with this secrecy is the use of these agencies for purely political intelligence gathering. This has been stated by many persons from differ ent fields on various occasions. For example, a news article by Bhavna Vij-Aurora in India Today said: “However, intelligence officials who have spent decades in the business are sceptical about IB getting rid of its preoccupation with gathering political intelligence. National security is not the priority of the UPA Government”.

Another news article “security cracks and the remedy” by sudha Ramachandran says-“Intelligence agencies are woefully understaffed. It has only 3,000 field officers, most of who are engaged in collecting political intelligence.” Aman sharma in Mail Today writes: “That the Intelligence Bureau (IB) is used by the government to spy on its political rivals is a well known fact. … former home secretary GK Pillai admitted as much when he said gathering political intel ligence is an element of IB’s work.” The same thing has been stated by former IPs officer Ks subramaniam as, “The directors in turn tended to follow the whims and fancies of their political masters of the moment, lacking professionalism and courage”, and ex IPs MK Dhar in his book ‘Open Secrets: India’s Intelligence Unveiled’.

An important issue that needs to be seen here is that these intelligence agencies were begun by the British. Why they needed political intelligence is known to one and all. The history of intelligence organisations is linked with the history of national awakening
and the development of organized political activities in the country. In the beginning, these agencies were responsible only for the collection of political intelligence to monitor political movements. These facts have been so widely recognised that LP singh Committee, headed by LP singh, former Union Home secretary, on the misuse of intelligence agencies and the CBI during the Emergency was formed much of its political surveillance work, and the election-related information gathering it has been pushed into doing by successive governments.

summing up, it has been widely stated and felt that political intelligence, when the matter has no importance and relevance than mere political use and is not associated with national security, law and order, public order, etc., is not something that the intelligence agencies today shall get engaged into, and yet it is being done on a very large scale.

THUs, the use of intelligence agencies for such information as to how many political meetings did a prominent leader of opposition hold, which political leader is meeting whom, which new political alignment is emerging, how are political developments supposed to take shape in the new future, which political leader is gaining ground among the people, which party is emerging as a threat to the ruling party, etc., and undertaking election analysis seems to be blatant misuse state machinery in favour of the personal needs of the political masters primarily as regards the political interests.

I, along with wife Nutan, have raised this issue before the Allahabad High Court through a Public Interest Litigation where we have prayed to stop the use of these agencies solely for political reasons. I am sure many people who have been part of the administration and have inside information of the facts would completely agree to the contentions raised by us in this PIL.

Amitabh Thakur, an IPS officer from UP, is also working for transparency in governance. The views expressed are personal.

Related Articles

My Corner

Activist Bureaucrats

THE Uttar Pradesh bureaucracy is witnessing a rather new phenomenon. Though I...

My Corner

An ode to Rahul Sharma

RAHUL Sharma was an Indian Police Service officer of the Gujarat cadre,...

My Corner

I the Minister, I the Trustee

THERE is a Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar Shodh Sansthan in Rampur in...

Victim of rape?
My Corner

Victim of rape?

LIFE is known to have huge and startling surprises in store for...