CBI action against IB will hit VVIP security (Sunday Guardian)
MADHAV NALAPAT New Delhi | 8th Feb 2014
s many as six senior cadre police officers from sensitive states warned in confidence that the "CBI's effort to prosecute and jail four Intelligence Bureau (IB) officers in the Ishrat Jahan encounter case can damage intelligence sharing and cooperation" between the IB and state police units. As a consequence, "insufficient information will flow upwards about perceived threats to important political leaders", with Narendra Modi at the top of the list of VVIPs threatened by the CBI's action.
These officers claimed that "IB director Asif Ibrahim had warned higher-ups several times about the harmful consequences of CBI director Ranjit Sinha's witch-hunt against IB officers" and that "even the Prime Minister appreciated the situation, but (that) Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde insisted on the charge sheets being filed".
They said that "several IB officers from sensitive states have met the DIB and told him that state police are now more and more refusing to act on IB requests out of fear of future prosecution". They warned Ibrahim, who is known to be an upright and effective officer, that even the flow of threat information will dry up," as field operatives will refuse to send such data up the chain for fear of being judicially penalised if these reports are subsequently shown to be wrong.
A senior officer pointed out that "out of every 25 reported threats only one may be genuine, but all 25 will need to get investigated in order to foil that plot". This, his colleagues added, is what will not happen anymore. Already, they claim, field information is drying up," that too in the high-risk environment of national polls and pell-mell movement of VVIPs.
They pointed out that the IB, often orally, requests state police to release informers from jail by diluting the charges against them, or to pick up suspects for interrogation or to participate in encounters with terror modules. "State police units, after seeing what happened to their Gujarat brethren will now refuse to act unless orders are given in writing from higher-ups. This delay and complication in procedure will affect success in counter-terror operations," an officer warned. An officer claimed that "CBI director Ranjit Sinha has a grouse against the IB for (allegedly) sending negative reports about him while he was in state service and seeking to block his promotion and transfer to Delhi to the Railways". However, another officer said that Sinha "was an outstanding official and cannot be said to have a personal grouse against the IB. In fact, he has made his anguish (about filing the charge sheet against the IB officers) public". Although police sources said that Shinde "took the CBI's side against the IB" in the matter of prosecution of the four intelligence operatives, no confirmation of that could be secured. However, what is clear is that Shinde does have substantial influence in such matters, given that the cadre controlling authority for the IPS is the Ministry of Home Affairs. Interestingly, Deputy National Security Adviser Nehchal Sandhu (formerly IB director) was "questioned for six hours by the CBI because some of the input in the (Ishrat Jahan) encounter came from his office". At that time, Sandhu was Joint Director in charge of Operations at IB headquarters, and it is known that source information in the case came from his office, reportedly on the basis of intelligence received from Kashmir. However, the CBI decided not to pursue the matter against Sandhu, who is well regarded in the PMO, any further.
These officers rubbished CBI claims that the IB officers "planted an AK-47 on those killed in the encounter", although they admitted that "sustained interrogation may force some people to say anything in order to escape". Pointing out that "even the CBI has admitted that two of the four killed were Pakistani terrorists", they asked if it was the CBI's contention that there were no threats to Narendra Modi when in fact, "he is the politician at greatest risk in the whole country, more so than even the PM". By the CBI's debunking past IB reports of terror operations targeting Modi, "field personnel are now wary of sending data they are getting about new threats" to Modi. Police officers warn that "the breakdown in the smooth flow of threat information and the breakdown of operational cohesion (between the IB and state police units) caused by the witch-hunt of the Gujarat-based cadre has sharply increased the risk to Modi", as well as, on a lower threat scale, other top political leaders, including Rahul Gandhi.