Friday, 8 May 2015

Was Jawaharlal Nehru Responsible for “snooping” on Bose?

Although BJP Govt. is also reluctant to reveal the long pending Netaji mystery as previous Govts. but have look what Freedom First May 2015 issue has revealed under the title ".Was Jawaharlal Nehru Responsible for “snooping” on Bose?" written by V. Balachandran.
Was Jawaharlal Nehru Responsible for “snooping”
on Bose?
                            Writer : V. Balachandran
The recent controversy on whether Jawaharlal Nehru had personally authorized “snooping” on Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and family has resulted in predictable squabbles on partisan political considerations.

The clamorous TV debates that we see on this subject
daily by the assemblage of usual faces who are chosen
not for their knowledge but more for their easy availability
also do not help us in coming to any conclusions. My
brief analysis has already appeared in a national daily on
April 12.
Before coming to this particular subject I need to
give a brief outline on how “snooping” is officially done.
Indian Telegraph Act 1885 gave a monopoly to the
Government of India to operate telegraphic communications
and for licensing private broadcast systems. Since public
security was involved, the government retained the power
under Section 5 to intercept any communication during
any “emergency” or on “Public safety”. For doing this,
four conditions were specified: Preservation of sovereignty
and integrity of India, friendly relations with foreign
countries, maintenance of public order and/or preventing
incitement to violence. Written orders have to be issued
before any interception is done. Since 1885, the Central
and state governments have specified rules from time to
time specifying who are the competent authorities to grant
permission and what procedure has to be followed for
interception. These principles are being followed and
modified for interception of land line telephones/cell
phones and also for digital transmissions now.
The East India Company and later the British
government were primarily bothered with crime. All energies
were devoted in suppressing crime and gangs. All
intelligence gathering by Provincial and princely State Police
was used to watch crime and gangs. However this
perspective changed after the First War of Independence
(Great Indian Mutiny) in 1857. There was need to watch
unrest against the British rule. The Whitehall (British
Government) took over the entire responsibility of
governing five British provincial governments. It also
started controlling 562 princely States. A new law “An
Act for the Better Government of India” was passed in
1858. Secretary of State for India was made totally in
control, assisted by the Viceroy & Governor General. Indian
Civil Service (ICS) was created. Lord Canning altered
Dalhousie’s annexation policy with “perpetuation of the
states as different entities” but with tighter control. As
the late V. P. Menon had said, “The Indian States thus
became part and parcel of the British empire in India”. A
“Political Department” under the direct charge of the
Governor General was created with Indian Political Service
officers (ICS & Army) and police forces. Secretary of State
for India “kept close control over the activities of the
Political Department”.
Meanwhile Col. (later General) William Henry
Sleeman completed his work of suppressing thugs by 1848
which he started in 1829. He prosecuted 4,500 thugs. Of
them 504 were hanged and 3,000 given life sentence. Only
250 were acquitted. After he was moved as Resident of
Oudh, the most coveted post for a British officer in India
in 1848, his team known as “The Thugee & Dacoity
Department” was converted as the centralized intelligence
arm of the new Political Department. This became ‘DIB’
(Delhi Intelligence Bureau) during the British days and
Intelligence Bureau (IB) after Independence. This unit came
to be directly controlled by Whitehall. During the 1920s
an office known as ‘Indian Political Intelligence’” (IPI)
which was jointly run by India Office, Scotland Yard and
Government of India took total control of security and
intelligence. IPI which was started by a lone Indian Police
(IP) officer in 1909 to keep an eye on the Indian
revolutionaries grew into a massive organization by the
Second World War. By 1935, arrangements were made in
all colonies integrating intelligence, police and security
organizations to face freedom struggles. In 1929 DIB was
headed by Sir David Pertie who later became Director
General of MI-5.
The declassified British intelligence papers revealed
by Christopher Andrew, author of the mammoth (1044
pages)“The Defence of the Realm- Authorized history of
MI-5” indicate that Indian intelligence activities were tightly
controlled from London through IPI and DIB before
Independence. Indian police officials were utilized for this
work. In 1934 Sir Holt-Wilson, a senior MI-5 officer recorded:
“Our Security Service is more than national; it is Imperial.
We have official agencies cooperating with us, under the
direct instructions of the Dominions and Colonial Offices
and the supervision of local governors, and their chiefs
of police, for enforcing security laws in every British
Declassified British archives also speak of a loud disconnect between
Nehru’s strategic policies and the priorities pursued by the IB.
Page 2
Freedom First May 2015
Community overseas. These all act under our guidance
for security duties...”
What was not, however, anticipated was that even
after 1947 this very close liaison continued between MI-
5 and our IB, like a junior partner. One of the unwritten
agreements during the transfer of power to India in 1947
was the secret positioning of a “Security Liaison Officer”
(SLO) at New Delhi as MI-5’s representative. This was
obtained by Guy Liddel, then Deputy Director General of
MI-5 with the consent of Intelligence Bureau according
to declassified archives. British archives quoted a
communication from the late T. G. Sanjeevi Pillai, IB’s first
Director on the need for maintaining close liaison with
MI-5. A British Government website defends this decision:
“When India ceased to be part of the Empire on 15 August
1947 and was partitioned into two independent States, India
and Pakistan, there were profound implications for the
British intelligence. From every point of view, economic,
geographic and political, India remained of key strategic
interest to the British government, and in the early Cold
War context good intelligence on the region was, if
anything, even more important than before”. Sardar
Vallabhbhai Patel was the Home Minister under whom IB
worked. There is no official confirmation whether Nehru
was consulted before this arrangement. This point will be
known only if the IB records of that time are declassified.
As a result of this junior status, IB closely followed
Britain’s intelligence priorities even though an independent
democratic country was born. DIB Sanjeevi did not like
V. K. Krishna Menon although he was a close confidante
of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. The dislike was shared
by Guy Liddel who audaciously assured his government
that “we are doing what we could to get rid of Krishna
Menon”. However they did not succeed. Nehru continued
having confidence in Menon. B. N. Mullik, the second
director also carried on with this policy and preferred
integrated approach with the British. According to British
archives he “encouraged” Walter Bell, the then SLO to
visit IB’s headquarters and outstations to see for himself
the work IB was doing in preventing Communist
subversion. In 1953, during his visit to London, Mullik
sought MI-5’s help in bolstering our counter espionage
Declassified British archives also speak of a loud
disconnect between Nehru’s strategic policies and the
priorities pursued by the IB. Apart from the Krishna Menon
episode, the disconnect was evident during the exchange
visits of Soviet leaders Nicolai Bulganin and Khrushchev
to India and Nehru’s visit to the USSR which heralded
closer Indo-Soviet relations in 1955. One year later there
was a chill in the Indo-UK relations when Nehru
condemned the Anglo-French invasion on the Suez.
Andrew says, quoting British records that this, however,
“had little impact” on the IB-MI5 collaboration. IB even
allowed an MI-5 officer to study their records on Moscow’s
subsidies to Indian Communists. In 1957 Mullik wrote to
Roger Hollis, MI-5 chief, “In my talks and discussions, I
never felt that I was dealing with any organization which
was not my own”. Thus Christopher Andrew concludes,
“Nehru, however, either never discovered how close the
relationship was or – less probably – did discover and
took no action”.
Normally any intelligence liaison with an
independent foreign country should have been maintained
by Britain’s foreign intelligence service known as MI-6
but in this case MI-5 resisted all such attempts till 1971.
British archives also quoted the then Director IB S.P.Verma,
writing obsequiously to the MI-5 Chief that he did not
know “how he would manage without a British SLO”, when
told about his withdrawal.
How was Subhas Chandra Bose put on
surveillance? From 1919 onwards Britain considered the
“Red Menace” as their top security challenge. Our
bureaucracy and the fledgling IB that we inherited from
imperial Britain also continued that policy till 1975 when
Mrs.Indira Gandhi gave them a strong admonition for
watching Communists and not Communalists during the
annual IB conference, which I had attended.
The above background needs to be kept in mind
before we jump into any conclusion that Jawaharlal Nehru
had ordered IB snooping on Bose’s family members.
Declassified IPI records indicate that Bose was kept under
watch since April 1924. In 1922, the Indian revolutionary
Abani Mukherjee was sent by the Comintern to India.
Purabi Roy, Netaji’s biographer says that he spent nearly
eleven months in Calcutta meeting Chittaranjan Das and
Subhas Bose. She says: “After his return to the USSR,
Abani Mukherjee stated in his report to Comrade Petrov,
the secretary of the Eastern Section, Comintern in Moscow:
‘….The right hand man of C. R. Das, Mr. S. Bose, being
a pro-communist, and a friend of ours, we have a good
influence over the Swaraja Party’”. (Dr. Purabi Roy, The
Search for Netaji: New Findings, Page 30, Purple Peacock
Books, Kolkata- 2011)
British intelligence must have started watch over
Bose and his family after this. Amiya Nath Bose, Netaji
Bose’s nephew had also mentioned in his blog that it was
Communist leader Soli Batliwala who was the link between
the Communist Party of India and Subhas Chandra Bose
in 1939 to forward the latter’s proposal to the Soviet Union.
A full picture will be available only if we declassify all
our IB and Bose records. High decibel TV debates are
not enough.
V. BALACHANDRAN, former Special Secretary, Cabinet
Secretariat; Member, 2-man High Level Committee to
enquire into 26/11 terrorist attacks. Currently writing a
biography of A.C.N. Nambiar, Netaji’s deputy in Berlin
during the Second World War.

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