‘IB HQ source of Kumar’s Ishrat inputs’ (Sunday Guardian)
MADHAV NALAPAT New Delhi | 3rd Aug 2013
ormer Intelligence Bureau special director Rajendra Kumar, who has been accused of "fabricating" information implicating Ishrat Jahan, Javed Shaikh (aka Pranesh Pillai) and two others in order to facilitate their encounter killing in 2004, was "not responsible for the information inputs on which the CBI is zeroing in for its Fake Encounter case", according to former colleagues of Kumar. They claim that the intelligence officer was "only a postman relaying input from the IB's Operations Directorate in Delhi to the Gujarat police". These sources say that the Ishrat-Javed information came from "sources in Kashmir linked to Pakistan-based groups" and that "senior officials in Delhi regarded the findings as important enough to transmit to Rajendra Kumar, the then head of the IB in Gujarat, without any cautionary note." As is routine in such matters, the input got by Kumar from Delhi was shared with Gujarat police officials, who accepted the stand of the IB Directorate of Operations that the information on the group was genuine and who thereupon "acted in the usual manner". What the "usual manner" was in such cases was not specified.
Did the information (about the alleged terror links of Ishrat Jahan and Javed Sheikh) originate from within Gujarat, whether from the Gujarat IB or the state police, or did it come from IB headquarters? Judging by its zeroing in on Rajendra Kumar to the exclusion of other IB officials within the chain of command nine years back, the CBI apparently believes that the input came from Kumar himself. However, an officer who has worked with Rajendra Kumar says that "the input did not come from any of his (Kumar's) local sources". Rather, he says, it came from "much higher up" and with a clear assurance that the input was "highly reliable". He said that this was the reason why Kumar brought in the Gujarat police, as it was "standard practice" to get the help of the police. Such help is usually sought without any written record of such a request. Another officer said that "the treatment given to Kumar and state police officials (by the CBI) means that the trust between local police and the IB that is critical to their functioning has been destroyed". He added that "these days, police in the states are willing to act only if they are told to do so in writing". As a consequence, he warns, "several suspected terrorists who need to be, at the least, apprehended and interrogated, may escape to carry out heinous acts".
A former colleague of Kumar's warned that "the flow of intelligence from the field stations of the IB will dry up" as officers will be "scared to pass on information" unless they are certain of its veracity. "In the world of intelligence, 100% certainty is impossible. It is better to go wrong a few times than to allow the guilty to escape because of fear that in future, action will be taken against those apprehending them" because of a public outcry or the perception that the information is false. "Because of the CBI going after Rajendra Kumar, all line officers of the IB are feeling vulnerable, and this is affecting their work", a senior official claimed. He was all praise for IB director Asif Ibrahim, who has "fought hard to prevent the team from getting demoralised". Ibrahim superseded four officers last year to get appointed as IB director. Among those more senior to him who were passed over was "Yashovardhan Azad who is related to a BJP leader and Rajagopal, a favourite of the previous Home Minister", according to a senior official.