Analysis: India’s spies keep tabs on political opponents, not terrorism

IB seal

IB seal

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
She is America’s rising ally in South Asia and is widely regarded as the world’s largest democracy. But India’s political system is highly chaotic and often repressive. This is aptly reflected in the operations of the Intelligence Bureau, India’s foremost domestic intelligence agency. One would think that the IB has its hands full with India’s countless domestic security concerns, which include increasingly popular and active Maoist insurgents, as well as mounting religious and political tensions in the predominantly Muslim states of Jammu and Kashmir, located in the country’s north. But one of India’s most respected English-language newspapers, The Hindu, cites “highly placed intelligence sources” who allege that most of the IB’s intelligence collection activities are targeted against the Indian government’s political opponents, not terrorism. According to the unnamed sources, “less than a third of the IB’s estimated 25,000-strong manpower [sic] is dedicated to what might be described as national security tasks”. Conversely, over two-thirds of the organization’s staff is reportedly tasked with “providing the government raw information and assessments on its increasingly bleak political prospects”, claims the paper. Examples of political policing by the IB include monitoring public meetings led by Rahul Gandhi, parliamentarian and leader of the National Congress, which is India’s main political opposition group. Another target of the IB’s alleged political policing campaign is anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare, who has become internationally known for spearheading popular protests against government sleaze in New Delhi and elsewhere. According to The Hindu, intelligence on political figures is collected by the IB’s state-of-the-art communications interception systems, which were purchased from Western hardware manufacturers following the sophisticated 2009 Mumbai Attacks by the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba. The official rationale behind the purchase of the equipment, which is capable of intercepting and analyzing enormous amounts of voice, email and text data, was to help guard Indian political figures and enhance the safety of large-scale political rallies, which remain popular in India. But the interception systems are now being used primarily without legal authorization to monitor the government’s political rivals, says The Hindu. The paper adds that the intelligence collected by the IB is distributed to several leading government members, including Union Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram and even the country’s Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh.

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One Response to Analysis: India’s spies keep tabs on political opponents, not terrorism

  1. Anonymous says:

    factual errors. Indian National Congress was ruling party at the time this article came out. mumbai attacks 2008. shame that u guys did not see that.

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