Arrest of a Military Intelligence official a few weeks ago for his purported links to Pakistani intelligence could be the fallout of the intense factional feud within the Army between supporters of former Army chief General V K Singh and his detractors, and may have nothing to do with espionage.
According to Army sources, Havildar Shivdasan, who is in the custody of the Southern Army Command, recorded a detailed video testimony a few days ago about what led to his arrest. He was nabbed in Kerala in April after he allegedly tried to sell off military secrets. Reports had said that he was selling it to Pakistani intelligence through a relative in the Gulf.
However, the story may be different, if Army sources are to be believed. Shivdasan has named a colonel of Military Intelligence, saying the officer had asked him to part with the secrets for “internal” purposes.
According to Shivdasan’s testimony, he was offered money and other benefits by the colonel if he parted with secrets of the Technical Support Division (TSD), a new division of Military Intelligence set up by Gen VK Singh and headed by his confidante Col Honey Bakshi. Shivdasan was the head clerk of TSD and thus had access to sensitive details of the division.
TSD has in the past been accused by Gen Singh’s detractors of illegally tapping phones of senior officials, political leadership etc. TSD and its “illegal activities” has also been the subject of repeated anonymous complaints filed with the defence minister and other top brass of the government.
According to sources, Shivdasan claimed that he was assured that the secrets of TSD were required only for internal consumption of the Army and was probably to “fix” Bakshi. The Army havildar has confessed that he was taken to Mumbai among other places during the period he was cultivated by the colonel.
Shivdasan finally handed over a CD containing some secrets, including possibly details of some MI sources, payments made to them and some operations carried out, in Thiruvananthapuram. According to sources, the CD was handed over to a Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) official, and a second Army officer was also present when the CD was handed over. The Army officer flashed his official identity card to win over Shivdasan’s trust, according to those in the know of the ongoing investigation in Southern Army Command.
Shivdasan was arrested much later, when the DRI alerted the Southern Command, which in turn informed the Army headquarters. Shivdasan was probably assured that it would remain within the Army and he had nothing to fear. But he may have given the detailed testimony in recent days after media reports emerged terming him an ISI spy.
If the Army sources and Shivdasan’s testimony are anything to go by, then the intense factional feud within the Army is nowhere near a final settlement despite Gen Singh’s retirement. The faultlines of caste and regimental loyalties that were further intensified when Gen Singh went to Supreme Court on his age issue, threatening the succession lines, may not disappear anytime soon. Over the coming weeks, there could be further score settling and muck raked up to fix rivals.
-via The Times of India.