Achievements of the special intelligence unit:
- Carried out 8 covert operations in enemy territory.
- Had been keeping a close watch over activities of terrorists like Syed Salahuddin, leader of Hizbul Mujahideen.
- Successfully carried out atleast one attack on ISI office in Pakistan.
- Had been effective in rendering Border Action Team(BAT) of Pakistani army ineffective in carrying out beheading of Indian soldiers inside the Indian side of LoC on many occasions.
- Gave sleepless nights to ISI and its sleeper cells in India.
- Had aced Info war against pro- Pak organisations within India, by preparing videos of atrocities faced by locals at the hands of Pak Army, in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir(PoK).
A special unit so capable was dismantled overnight and its officers were sent on punishments postings to different parts of India. Why was UPA government interested in disbanding the unit so nimble-footedly? What was the motive?
Once upon a time, there existed a small military intelligence unit which had close to just 40 members in its team, which reified the idea of intelligence unit in India – it was called the Technical support division or TSD as it had come to be known. Don’t be mislead by the name, it had nothing to do with the word “technical” in usual sense; it was all about human intelligence. The name was chosen so that it didn’t give away the purpose of unit’s existence and to keep the unit low profile. This unit was totally designed to look across the borders and it had nothing to do with the internal affairs except if it found an external link carrying out activities within the country.
In the aftermath of 26/11, the need to conduct operations against terrorist infrastructure in neighbouring countries was the reason this unit came into existence, on the suggestion of DGMI (Director General Military Intelligence) to Gen Deepak Kapoor.
After Gen VK Singh took over as the Chief of staff, he helped form the unit and picked up Col Hunny Bakshi to lead it. TSD mainly concentrated on the northern and north eastern front of India. This small team had apparently grown into a beast in a short span of 2 years, and IB and RAW appeared fledglings when compared to it. But this wasn’t going down well with many in the higher echelons of the government.
Hamam Vs Indian Army
The cornucopia of bad luck descended on this unit in the eventful month of May in the year 2012, when Havaldar Sham Das, was intercepted by a team of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), in Kochi; it was alleged that he was carrying CDs with very sensitive operational data in them. It was no coincident that Sham Das was arrested just 2 weeks before Gen VK Singh’s retirement, rendering him ineffective in rescuing the unit from the storm that had hit it. The *Hamam had just begun to destabilize the security apparatus of India.
*Hamam– An organized crime syndicate/mafia that runs a parallel government, law unto themselves; it has dropped its roots in every corner of the country. According to the Vohra committee (1993), this syndicate has developed links with and are being protected by Government functionaries and political personalities.
The “respectable” members of the decorous Hamam were not very happy with the fact that Indian army had produced a beast which was adept at carrying out covert ops anywhere in the world, leaving no trails behind, and putting an end to the espionages carried out by ISI within India. Afterall, a lot of funding that the Hamam received was through the ISI.
To make Indian Army tow the line, Hamam had decided to corner it. TSD was disbanded in August 2012, after it was accused of carrying out misappropriate operations within the country.
Was TSD really guilty of what it was accused of?
The low profile unit wasn’t low profile anymore after the media went abuzz with the news of its presence. Somebody from the Ministry of defence was helping add fuel to fire by exposing the members of the team and its strategies. The accusations which the unit had to deal were here to haunt its members for a very long time.
Accusation 1: Snooping on the officials of MoD with off-air interceptors purchased from either Israel or Singapore.
Logical analysis: There were many who lost their sleep when IB warned officials of the presence of off-air interceptors near south block to pick up mobile conversations. But what many didn’t know was, this equipment could not be used to snoop in on any one particular mobile number. Add to it the fact that all classified communication goes through encrypted RAX lines and not through regular service providers or devices.
Accusation 2: Bribing independent Kashmiri politician to help topple Omar Abdullah’s government in J&K.
Logical analysis: It was alleged that Rs 1.9 crore was paid to Agriculture minister, Ghulam Hassan, in an attempt to overthrow a government lead by National conference. In Omar Abdullah’s words “One will be a fool to accept that you can topple government with this amount of money; you can’t even change a municipality with it.” He was right; NC had formed a government with the support of Congress and ergo to destabilize the government paying just one minister out of many would be like trying to boil the ocean with a candle.
Accusation 3: Paying an NGO to file a PIL against then Gen Bikram Singh in the alleged fake encounter in Jangalat Mandi, when Bikram Singh was a Brigadier.
Logical analysis: It was alleged that Rs 2.38 crore was paid to Hakikat Singh, who formed NGO called Yes Kashmir and filed a PIL against Bikram Singh. This PIL was dismissed by supreme court. Only someone with a fatuous imagination would have expected to win a case so weak; an Intelligence unit would prefer doing something more tangible.
With most of the accusations found baseless, the team got to breathe a sigh of relief when all charges against it were dropped in March 2018. But these were 6 arduous years that the men of TSD had to endure, not to mention the equal amount of pain their families had to suffer. To give an example, Col Bakshi’s teenager son had to change 3 buses on daily basis to reach his college. Who would have imagined that such were the perils of being patriotic?
So what happened after TSD was disbanded?
- The surge in attacks on India.
- January 8,2013: With nothing to prevent the nefarious activities of border action team of Pak, they had a free run. In a raid BAT team mutilated an Indian soldier’s body; Naik Hemaraj was beheaded. Ostensibly a video of beheading was also released in which terrorists were shown parading with the head of Indian soldier.
- September 2013: Samba attack, In the worst terror attack on a security establishment in Jammu region in over a decade, 3 fidayeen stormed a police station and an army camp, killing at least 10 people .
- March, 2013: Attack on CRPF camp Bemina, 5 CRPF personnel killed
- June 2013: Attack on Indian Army convoy, 8 soldiers killed.
- Feb 2013: Hyderabad twin blasts, 18 people died.
- April 2013: Banglore blast
- July 2013: Bodh Gaya bombings
- October 2013: Patna Bombing
- December 2013: Jalpaiguri bombing
- Surge in cross fire violations at LoC
And the list continues.
Compare the above list with the attacks in the year 2011 & 2012, when just 4 such incidents took place.
Of course many would claim that TSD wasn’t the only factor which played a role in curbing such attacks. But then many credible members and Indian think tanks too had made the same observation; disbanding of TSD wasn’t in the best of interest of the country.
- Stifling of Military intelligence unit: CAG Shashikant Sharma as Defence Secretary had refused to provide finances to the unit. To put things in perspective, Mr Shashikant Sharma was the one who had initiated Augusta Westland deal. Rings a bell? Gen VK Singh, who had accused Congress of vendetta politics, had hinted that TKA Nair, civil servant who formerly served as Adviser to the Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh was neck deep in corruption in the Tatra Truck scam. A military intelligence unit of TSD’s capacity under someone like Gen VK singh was bound to rock a few boats and ergo the stifling continued.
UPA government was rocked by many scams and some of them were related to the defence forces. Presence of unit like TSD was sure to bring many prominent names in the government to the fore, who were also complacent members of Hamam. If the intentions were good, checks and balance should have been put in place to control the activities of such unit instead of finishing it off completely.
This isn’t the first time when covert units were shut down. Another famous case is that of IK Gujral, when he ostensibly gave orders to shut down Pakistan special operations desk of RAW. This many claim lead to intelligence failure and consequently India faced a Kargil War . This was also not the first time when an officer was made the scapegoat of vendetta politics; Col Purohit and Col Bakshi’s case would make any intelligence officer shudder with fear.
India has projected itself as a soft power for so long despite having the capabilities to take down its opponents in a pounce; this comes at the cost of undermining its defence forces.
We could have avoided beheading of our soldiers, a samba attack, Kargil war and prevented terrorism from keeping the beautiful Kashmir valley burning, by arresting terrorists like Syed Salahuddin in time. But Congress government was sitting with its hands tied while Hamam carried out its orders with alacrity.
One last question to the Congress party- How fair is it to expect USA to carry out a job which could have been done deftly by the Indian army?
This headline should put many in introspection mode >>>