The Technical Support Division (TSD), the intelligence unit created by the former army chief General VK Singh, was ‘unauthorised’ and did not have any ‘mandate’ to carry out covert operations on foreign soil, a top ministry of defence (MoD) official told the Intelligence Bureau that is probing the unit’s role.
On the instructions from the prime minister’s office, the national security adviser, Shiv Shankar Menon, recently asked the Intelligence Bureau to carry out a discreet probe into the alleged covert operations carried out by the TSD.
The office of the NSA was not in favour of a probe by the CBI as, it feared, it would spill the beans about the covert operations and would cause embarrassment to the government on the diplomatic front.
The Director General of Military Operations Lieutenant General Vinod Bhatia, in a secret report, has pointed to the several covert operations conducted on foreign soil by TSD. A top defence ministry official told dna that the ministry has informed the IB sleuths about TSD’s activities. “TSD, being a military intelligence unit, was not at all authorised to carry out covert operations which are in the domain of civilian intelligence organisation. Foreign covert operations must have clearance from the political executive, they must be in synch with the country’s foreign policy and have to be carried out with a great amount of care and sensitivity,” said the official.
General VK Singh has denied that the TSD carried out illegal operations. “The TSD was raised after 26/11 (Mumbai attacks) with a mandate to carry out covert intelligence operations with a required sanction from the defence minister,” VK Singh told dna.
Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah has written to the prime minister, seeking an inquiry into VK Singh’s statement in which he claimed that the army used to pay money to J&K ministers to bring stability to a particular area in the state.
An officer added that keeping the democratic nature of the country in mind, the role to carry out covert operation was kept out from the military intelligence like it happens in great democracies around the world.
Officials also claimed that Gen VK Singh handpicked officers for TSD. Seven officers and 24 other ranks were posted to the unit, which was created on May 2010 under Lt Gen Rakesh Lumba, who was then the Director General of Military Operations. But, the officer in charge of TSD, Col Munishwar, was directly reporting to the office of the chief of army staff.
Lt Gen Kamal Davar ((retd), former Director General of Defence Intelligence Agency, categorically denied that Military Intelligence was involved in any covert operation on foreign soil. “Military Intelligence does not carry out any covert operation on foreign soil. It’s the job of the Research and Analysis Wing. MI’s role is only preventive,” Lt Gen Davar told dna.