Friday, 28 February 2020

What Is The Truth, Please!

Updated: August 16, 2014 4:25 pm

The CIA interest in the BJP might be due to the serious import of Rahul Gandhi’s meeting with the US Ambassador, Timothey Roamer on July 20, 2009, alleging that Hindu radical groups posed a bigger threat to India’s integrity than the internationally notorious Lashkar-e-Taiba

It has become near impossible to sift facts from the attempts to pass off reports of bugging at five BJP leaders as baseless and on the contrary The Sunday Guardian report that listening devices were found at Nitin Gadkari’s residence and Edward Snowden revelation in The Washington Post that top BJP leaders were under surveillance by a premier US spy agency.

India was one of the six countries where snooping was permitted by the US Supreme Court. Any attempt to determine whether these two Navtan Kumar and Edward Snowden were on wrong tracks and reported bugging at BJP leadership residences erroneously or there is some reason for the BJP leaders to deny any surveillance through listening devices.

It has become a whodunit and raises few critical questions. If what The Sunday Guardian or The Washington Post are claiming is true, why the BJP top bosses denying it. Rajnath Singh, the Home Minister replying to spate of questions by an aggressive Opposition in the Lok Sabha said: “Newspaper reports about high-powered listening devices being found inside the bedroom of a minister’s residence are without any basis.

“Even the person in whose bedroom the alleged devices were found has denied it.”

Sure enough outside Parliament Nitin Gadkari told media persons that the report about bugging devices found in his bedroom were false and baseless.

The strange thing is that all intelligence agencies in the country have, according to very reliable source, washed their hands off and said they had no knowledge and were not involved. This absolute denial can mean that either what BJP leaders are asserting is true or the affected leaders have something to hide and the agencies have not been contacted. The Sunday Guardian reported that the discovery of the devices in the bedroom of Nitin Gadkari at his 13 Teen Murti Lane residence in New Delhi was “accidental” and a debugging exercise was immediately ordered.

“According to highly placed sources, more devices were consequently discovered at the residence of the senior BJP leader who is also the Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways. Gadkari has apparently informed Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat about the incident.

“Initial investigations have revealed that the bugs were planted in the house by a foreign agency since the sophisticated listening devices found are used only by western intelligence operatives, particularly the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA).”

The then External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, following the Snowden exposure, while playing down the report of India being the fifth largest target for the US snooping programme, virtually reiterated the defence put up by US Secretary of State John Kerry during his earlier India visit.

“This is not scrutiny and access to actual messages. It is only computer analysis of patterns of calls and emails that are being sent. It is not actually snooping specifically on the content of anybody’s message or conversation.” This is diplomatese at its worst.

The NDA government had lodged a strong protest with the US State Department following the publication of the news in the Washington Post.

But the report that US top spy agency, National Security Agency (NSA), was authorised by a US court in 2010 to carry out surveillance on the BJP along with five other political organisations across the world, including Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and Pakistan People’s Party. Indian Intelligence agencies should have woken up to the damage likely to be caused by the espionage nest planted by the CIA as soon as Edward Snowden revealed on July 1, 2014, that the BJP had been included by America in the list of dangerous “terror club” of six international radical outfits.

Also why the UPA did not ask the agencies to start their own surveillance? Was it that the snooping was to start with the tacit permission of the government? And that is why Salman Khurshed played the whole thing down?

This raises a counter-question. Why is the NDA quiet, why it has not attacked the UPA aggressively for allowing spying of BJP leaders? Among Indian political parties, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was the only one of the six non-US political parties across the globe that the National Security Agency received official permission in 2010 to covertly spy upon.


A Few Questions


 

  • Why the intelligence agencies did not start counter-surveillance post-Snowden revelation that the NSA had been given permission to snoop on the BJP, which was bracketed with terror organisations?
  • Was the UPA in complicity with the NSA snooping on the BJP? It was in the opposition and it suited the Congress in particular to know its strategies!
  • Was the view of Rahul Gandhi that the Hindu terror was more dangerous made the US classify the BJP as a terror outfit and go after it, much to the glee of the Congress? Why then the BJP not asking for an explanation from them?
  • Will the snooping stop now that Modi and President Obama have talked? Had John Kerry come to further warm up relations with the BJP? It would be nice to know if the surveillance if any has stopped now!

“A classified 2010 legal certification and other documents indicate the NSA has been given a far more elastic authority than previously known, one that allows it to intercept through US companies not just the communications of its overseas targets but any communications about its targets as well.” The certification approved by the FISA court, and leaked by Edward Snowden, says that 193 countries were “of valid interest for US intelligence.’

If the BJP was picked up for snooping, why the NDA has not attacked the UPA? It was apparently in the loop. As said earlier its all a mystery—a whodunit!

What was the point of seeking permission for spying if the NSA did not have any plans to do it. Gadkari was the BJP President and an important BJP leader close to the BJP bosses. Now very recently names of Sushma Swaraj and Rajnath Singh cropped up. But there has been no follow-up. This gives greater credence to the report that Gadkari’s residence was bugged. Notwithstanding all the outrage expressed by Rajnath Singh or Gadkari.

This is not the first such case of surveillance of senior politicians in recent times. In June 2011, there were reports that offices of the Ministry of Finance were bugged. President Pranab Mukherjee was heading the ministry at that time. About a year later, there was a report that the then Defence Minister AK Antony’s office had been bugged. While the details were not made public, the incidents were seen as a part of internal Congress politics, unlike in the present case, where the role of a foreign agency is suspected.

Another question arises, was the BJP of special interest to NSA because of the tête-à-tête between Rahul Gandhi and Timothy Roamer, the US Ambassador in 2009.

The CIA interest in the BJP might be due to the serious import of Rahul Gandhi’s meeting with the US Ambassador, Timothey Roamer on July 20, 2009, alleging that Hindu radical groups posed a bigger threat to India’s integrity than the internationally notorious Lashkar-e-Taiba. This the great Prince opined barely eight months after 10 Pakistani commandos of the Lashkar laid siege to Mumbai for nearly three days and killed 166 innocents in a spectacular carnage displayed worldwide on 24/7 television channels.

According to a report and analysis, the intimate tête-à-tête between the “prince” of the Congress and Timothy Roamer had been taped and sent to the USA. It is alleged that the explosive tape finally landed on the desk of the CIA chief who took the revelations as gospel truth. No wonder, soon the BJP was listed among the top six members of the international terrorist club and permission for spying on the members of the BJP and RSS was taken under the US law in 2010.

Another vital clue for the USA bringing the BJP under its surveillance might lie buried in the paradigm shift in the central government’s (of UPA) directive to the Intelligence Bureau to focus more on the so-called ‘saffron terror’ and go slow on Islamic jihadi outfits. It is a fact, that no bugging of houses in the national capital could have been done even by the USA, without the knowledge and complicity of Indian intelligence agencies. Which in turn means the then Home Minister (Chidambaram?) and the top UPA (read Congress) leadership.

This is the reason to wonder why the Modi government is being on the defensive instead of attacking the Congress with all guns blazing. The mystery might not be solved ever. But speculations are many, the most prominent being, has or have something been recorded which could be embarrassing for the BJP.

Will the BJP clarify! And the government owes it to the country to let it know the truth!

By Vijay Dutt

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