When reports emerged that the CEO of the National Intelligence Grid (Natgrid) was on his way out soon after the new government took charge, it appeared to merely signal a routine shift in the top brass of the intelligence establishment. After all, the high profile CEO Raghuram Raman's contract had expired on May 31 and was simply not being renewed, and as expected since nobody expected the NDA to keep UPA appointees in the security establishment.
It now appears, however, that it was in fact an Intelligence Bureau report alleging misconduct that may have led to Raman's ouster. A report in The Indian Express suggests that this IB report may have been a "key factor" in the NDA government's decision. What's more, the report says the IB report had been presented to the UPA as well -- the then government at the Centre however chose to ignore it. The Express article is, however, conspicuously silent on the content of the report other than to say it "alleged personal and professional misconduct by Raman involving foreign nationals."
The Natgrid is an ambitious security infrastructure project conceived after the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai. It involves creation of an intelligence database to provide quick and secure information to 10 different intelligence and law enforcement agencies including the Intelligence Bureau, Customs, etc. It will record and relay information pertaining to immigration, banking transactions and telecom details.
The project has suffered from slow progress since its inception in 2011, slowing down further after the departure of former Union Home Minister P Chidambaram from the ministry.
Raman was appointed CEO on December 1, 2009. Incidentally, Raman reportedly had some run-ins with the IB in the past, the latter keen to control the Natgrid.
Key elements of the anti-terror infrastructure or the internal security establishment including the Natgrid are expected to report directly to the PMO in the new regime.
Also, while the contentious Communal Violence Bill and the National Counter Terrorism Centre proposed by UPA-II were dropped from a presentation made to the new government by the Ministry of Home Affairs, there was mention of Natgrid.
If the decision not to extend his contract was based on the IB report, it would not be the only decision the new government has taken based on IB inputs -- more recently, the government has cracked down upon funding for NGO Greenpeace following an IB report that the organisation was being funded to block India's energy security.
Updated Date: Jun 20, 2014 14:42:54 IST