New Delhi, Dec 10 (IANS) India is paying a heavy price for differences among its intelligence agencies as they rarely exchange inputs among themselves, say insiders. The Mumbai terror attack is a case in point.
The country has three main intelligence agencies - the Intelligence Bureau (IB) for collection of internal and counter intelligence, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) for external intelligence, and Military Intelligence (MI) that collects military-related inputs.
'Rivalry between the three major intelligence agencies, RAW, IB and MI, has done a lot of damage not only to the agencies but also to the nation. The reluctance to share intelligence is the bane of all agencies, at least in India,' Major General (retd) V.K. Singh, who has retired from RAW and has seen the intelligence agencies from close quarters, told IANS.
'The proclivity to take the credit has given rise to the unpardonable trend in every agency of keeping vital intelligence close to its chest until it is disclosed to someone important enough in the political hierarchy, sometimes even the prime minister,' Singh said.
Singh in his book, 'India's External Intelligence - Secrets of Research and Analysis Wing', noted that rivalry between IB and RAW was perhaps unavoidable in view of their past history and functions.
'An Indian recruited by a foreign militant group is definitely the concern of the IB. When he is taken across the border for training he becomes the interest of RAW. When he re-enters India and carries out strikes against the military installations in Jammu and Kashmir, it becomes the worry of MI.
'Should he be handed over from one agency to the other every time he crosses a border, or should all keep a watch on him together? Should the army and IB be allowed to monitor trans-border radio and satellite links, which strictly fall within the purview of RAW?
'These are the questions that have no clear answers and only add to the blame game between the intelligence agencies,' Singh said.
According to former IB joint director Maloy Krishna Dhar, RAW's reluctance to share information with the IB is legendary. There have also been instances where personality clashes have deterred effective coordination between the national security advisor (NSA) and RAW chiefs.
A.K. Mitra, former director general of the Border Security Force (BSF), said: 'Not sharing intelligence information is a problem between all the agencies.'
'There is no justification for holding critical information and not sharing the critical information with other agencies or security establishments. The nation is paying a price for it. If we want to thwart terror attacks, we must pull up our socks and bring the guilty officers to book,' Mitra told IANS.
After the Nov 26 terror attack on Mumbai that lasted 60 hours and in which 172 people were killed, the three agencies took potshots at each other.
RAW and IB claimed they had given information specifying the places and the time when the terrorists could strike. But the state government and the navy denied any actionable inputs. The cabinet secretary is now looking into the matter.
According to government sources, the Joint Committee of Intelligence (JIC), which analyses intelligence data from the IB, RAW and the directorates of military, naval and air intelligence and works under the National Security Council, has failed to live up to expectations.
'It is almost defunct and the chiefs of intelligence agencies have very rarely met under the JIC roof in the last two years,' said a source.
Quoting the report of the Kargil Review Committee in his book, Singh said: 'The army never shared its intelligence with the other agency or JIC'.