Media is agog with reports of proceedings against Colonel Hunny Bakshi being dropped, but not about commendations for covert operations undertaken. The Latter is rightly so because covert operations should never be publicised. Even as RAW has declassified some missions for whatever reasons, India has not declassified official records of the 1962 India-China War, whereas the official records of the 1971 India-Pakistan War are not so official and sans inputs from HQ Eastern Command. For inexplicable reasons, author of the book, India's External Intelligence — Secrets of Research and Intelligence Wing (RAW) is reportedly being subjected to pressures.
One prominent national newspaper headline reads ‘Army drops all charges against Col Hunny’. The report says that the Army has called off the general court martial (GCM) against Baksi, a former CO of Technical Support Division (TSD), a secretive military intelligence unit, which was set up in 2010 under former army chief General VK Singh, and disbanded after he retired in 2012.
TSD faced allegations ranging from misuse of secret funds, using off-the-air interceptors to tap phones of Ministry of Defence (MoD) officials, attempt to topple Jammu and Kashmir government, and change the line of succession in the Indian Army.
The cases against TSD began after a Havildar from the outfit was “allegedly” intercepted with classified information by the Department of Revenue Intelligence in Kerala during May 2012.
But the manner in which the UPA II government orchestrated the sordid affair of shutting down TSD — which was giving ISI sleepless nights — and moulded perceptions through disinformation would put even the capabilities of Cambridge Analytica to shame. The TSD was sanctioned by the Ministry of Defence when General VK Kapoor (VK Singh’s predecessor) was the army chief.
The 'mobile interceptors', around which the whole story was cooked, were neither procured nor held by the TSD. These were imported by the director general of Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) which functioned directly under Defence Minister AK Anthony and had nothing to do with the Indian Army or the army chief. If mobile interceptors were deployed in Delhi in 2012, it would be on orders of Anthony, then prime minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi. The story of bugging Anthony’s office was cooked up to give credence to the ‘mobile interceptors’ narrative.
The same director general of DIA offered bribes of Rs 14 cr to General VK Singh in the latter’s office to push a defence deal, and when jailed later, a prominent lawyer from the ruling party went rushing to get him bail.
The UPA II wanted to place this director general of DIA as director general of National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) but called it off after the mobile interceptors scandal emerged in the media. The worst part was leaking classified military intelligence to the media by the Ministry of Defence, which again could not have been without Anthony’s indulgence. Whether the higher-ups were under ISI blackmail due to the hawala transactions or feared exposure to the narcotics mafia, the entire episode amounted to high treason involving the highest level political dispensation of that time. Significantly, several Indian politicians are known to be in the net of Dawood Ibrahim.
There is jubilation about charges being dropped against Colonel Bakshi, some even attributing the movie Aiyaari replicating the affair in an outstanding manner to the public at large. But the real reason is that GCM was impossible without letting Colonel Bakshi cross-examine the witnesses, which would have brought scores of skeletons tumbling out. For the same reason, he was also not provided with copies of documents used against him, not even a copy of the board of officers implicating him — which he is authorised by law. His wife, Aparna has alleged in an interview recently that it was not just her husband but that she too faced problems because of two former army chiefs.
It is obvious that the UPA II used the army hierarchy to shut down the TSD but posts on social media question why some senior officers became a party to political maneuvering despite adverse impact on army capability and national security.
The 1993 Vohra Committee Report pointed to mafia virtually running a parallel government: money power used to develop a network of muscle-power, also used by the politicians during elections; rapid spread and growth of criminal gangs, armed senas, drug mafias, smuggling gangs, drug peddlers and economic lobbies, having developed extensive network of contacts with bureaucrats/government functionaries at local levels, politicians, media persons and strategically located individuals in non-State sector, some having international linkages and foreign intelligence; various mafias operating with impunity due links with governmental functionaries, political leaders, and others; any leakage of linkages of this crime syndicate with senior government functionaries or political leaders in the states or at the Centre could have a destabilising effect on the functioning of government.
The above mafia is what some refer to as ‘Hamam’. Having infiltrated all institutions in the country, the ‘Hamam’ found a simple solution to make the military to fall in line. The Intelligence Bureau (IB) was ordered to initiate annual confidential reports (ACRs) on senior officers that went directly to the party high command. Those with whatever misdemeanors were tagged for future placements (and blackmail if needed), not that only they were promoted. But these ACRs certainly helped crucial placement at crucial times in all three Services.
The army cannot proceed against Bakshi though justice has come by default on legal grounds, with his career ruined. He will probably be posted to an obscure appointment from where he would probably resign. There are many write-ups that Prime Minister Narendra Modi hasn’t done enough against corruption. But here is a case of high treason that requires the Hamam to be shattered. The least requirement is speedy trial by a special court for all the traitors.
The author is former Lieutenant General
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Updated Date: Mar 26, 2018 15:02:03 IST