The Indian government regards as “highly improper” the unauthorised channel of communication established by an FBI representative in the U.S. embassy here with an officer of the Delhi Police Special Cell.

Reacting to the disclosure in a confidential cable released by WikiLeaks that the Regional Security Officer (RSO) in the American Embassy in New Delhi often gathered more information on terrorism-related issues by “discreetly contacting” a local officer in the Special Cell rather than by sending a request through proper channels, senior Indian officials told The Hindu the government took a very serious view of the matter.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, which was allowed to set up shop in India by the erstwhile NDA government several years ago, staffs the designated RSO post. Indian officials said the RSOs are supposed to interact with designated nodal officers in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or the Ministry of Home Affairs.

While every diplomat — and especially those with a law enforcement or intelligence background — tries his or her best to tap as wide a variety of sources as possible, the Government of India has strict ground rules for its own officials, who are not meant to make unauthorised contact or information transfers to foreign envoys. “I am quite sure the Intelligence Bureau will be very interested in who these people are in the Special Cell who have been “discreetly” interacting with the FBI,” a former head of the IB said on condition of anonymity. Another official said that the cable was significant not because it revealed the ingenuity of the Americans but the “porousness” of the Indian system.

The cable also noted that forensics was weak in India – as only two DNA labs service the entire country. “Few police officers outside major cities are trained in safeguarding and exploiting electronic data, although this capacity is expanding under indigenous cyber security and cooperative training with U.S. agencies,'' it said.

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