THE Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is one of those organisations that are commonly and freely talked about in India but about which informed studies are scarce. The role of the mole in Indira Gandhi's Cabinet in December 1971 is very evident in Jack Anderson's Papers and those released by the United States State Department much later.
Indira Gandhi, true to form, tried to make political capital out of the affair during the election campaign in 1979, immediately after the publication of Thomas Powers' authoritative work The Man Who Kept the Secrets. Neither critics nor fawning admirers called her to account.
What steps did she take against the mole? His identity was no great secret. It is surely a matter of deep concern that at the height of the Bangladesh war a record of the Prime Minister's talks with the Soviet Ambassador should land on the table of Henry Kissinger within 48 hours or less. Three things are incontrovertible. A mole did exist; he was not officially identified; and Indira Gandhi did not punish him ever.
Anuj Dhar moved the Central Information Commission on this matter. After its direction to provide the information, the Ministry of External Affairs accepted that records of discussions of meetings between the then External Affairs Minister, Swaran Singh, and U.S. Secretary William Rogers on October 5, 1972, were available; but, PTI reported, it refused to disclose them claiming confidentiality.
Dhar rightly complained, While the Ministry is claiming confidentiality clause, the U.S. government has declassified the memorandum of conversation between Singh and Rogers titled Indian Allegations Regarding CIA Activities'.freedom of information act
The author's researches have sadly received little notice. This book testifies to his labours and his grasp of the material on the subject. He explains how the Freedom of Information Act can be invoked to unravel secrets about India. The memo of the October 5, 1972, talk is reproduced:
Secretary [Rogers] initiated discussion this subject saying he was perplexed at Prime Minister Gandhi's public remarks regarding CIA activities in India. Initially [Swaran] Singh tried to side step issue in light hearted manner saying Mrs. Gandhi paid compliment to CIA for its activities. But shedding flippancies, he added: It has not been difficult for GOI to come to know of CIA activities. For example, GOI had information that proceedings of Congress Working Committee were known to U.S. officials within two hours of meetings. Said when this happens it offends people. Were the delinquent members of that body identified and punished?CIA infiltration
Anuj Dhar writes, The final twist in the tale came in 1988 in Bombay. Now defunct newspaper Independent carried a story reportedly based on a (R&AW) communication to Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi exonerating Morarji Desai and implicating deceased stalwart Yashwant Rao Chavan, Finance Minister during the 1971 war. This led to an ugly uproar and the paper's editor Vinod Mehta, in his words, had to flee Bombay'.
Now, the story from the horse's mouth. Documents 27 to 30 in this book confirm the CIA's infiltration of Indian establishment at the top level in December 1971. Rendered unidentifiable due to redactions, a reliable source' (see back cover for the first page of document 29) leaked out the details of confidential Soviet-Indo deliberations and, more horrendously, India's war objectives' as elucidated by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.War objectives
Prime Minister Gandhi told her Cabinet on December 6 that before accepting a U.N. call for a cease-fire there were three objectives that would have to be achieved: to guarantee the establishment of Bangladesh; to liberate the southern part of Azad Kashmir; and to destroy Pakistan's armour and air forces.
The mole's name was deleted when the CIA papers were published, officially. Did she omit the northern areas of Kashmir to avoid trouble with China?
The author rightly does not identify the mole, a caution not evident in some of his other inferences. But he fairly sets out the documents for the reader to judge for himself. The book deserves wide readership and its documents, careful analysis. It provides the CIA's material on domestic politics, relations with China, on Kashmir, Bangladesh, nuclear proliferation and much else.