Wednesday, December 24, 2008

No information about 1971 spy: PMO

Imagine a top American journalist claiming that a former Prime Minister of India was a CIA operative for years. Imagine that former Prime Minister going all the way to the US to fight a legal battle to offset this terrible assault on his reputation. Many of you will recall that this actually happened in the case of Morarji Desai. At the fag end of his life, he was described as a long-time CIA agent by Pulitzer-winning journalist Semour Hersh. The court case in the US lasted for years.

And now, consider this: The Prime Minister's office says that there's no information with the PMO about the Moraraji episode. Hmm, knowing a bit about how meticulous the bureaucracy is in keeping records about everything concerning the nation, I wonder if the governmental machinery could have given such a sensational development a miss. Would Prime Minister Indira Gandhi not have tried to know the truth behind the damning charge against the man who dethroned her in 1977?

Well, I had put a series of questions to the PMO under the Right to Information. They were about "the recurring allegations that a minister betrayed India during the 1971 war by leaking out information to the CIA". The answer from the PMO is that "no information could be located in records in this office".

This concise answer leaves no room for further probing. Unless someone tells me otherwise, I don't think so there is any ground for contesting the PMO's reply before the appellate authority. The PMO has supplied the information that they have no information.

But that doesn't mean the matter is over. One knows that the records about issues such as one under discussions are usually kept by the intelligence agencies, which are beyond the preview of the RTI act. So, one has to follow up all available leads. Let's see -- the responses from the Ministry of External Affairs and the Cabinet Secretariat are up next.

No comments: