The former Intelligence Bureau (IB) chief, Arun Bhagat, has told Hindi television station P7 that he was ordered, while in service, to engage in activities unrelated to national security — the first such admission by a high official of India's domestic intelligence service.
In an interview broadcast on Tuesday, Mr. Bhagat said he was told by the then government to “to conduct a survey on the food situation.” “I could not have said I won't do it.” He went on to say that “on my recommendation, the government immediately imported one million tonnes, or more, of wheat.”
Mr. Bhagat was being interviewed for an investigative report published in The Hindu on Monday, which revealed that much of the IB's resources were devoted to domestic political espionage. “There is always some political influence and pressure,” he told P7, “it is always there. I do not agree, though, that resources are diverted away from counter-terrorism for political tasks.”
Appointed IB Director in 1997 by Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda, Mr. Bhagat faced allegations that agents posted to the Parliament House on security duties were also conducting surveillance of MPs.
Mr. Bhagat reportedly told the Lok Sabha Speaker that while the IB staff, while primarily effecting the duties delegated to them, inevitably acquired some political intelligence, which was passed on to their superior officers.
“There are some small things [chhoti-moti] which go on in government; they will always go on. I'm not saying doing wrong things is acceptable, but there is no harm in these [small] things,” he told P7.