From Anjali Sharma
NEW DELHI- There is an old English proverb, As you sow so shall you reap; It seems that this very proverb comes just very matching for the officers unlawful Technical Support Division ( TSD) of Indian Army, who, following illegal order of General VK Singh, the then Army Chief, got willingly indulged into a haul of unauthorized, unsanctioned and illegal operations, ranging from tapping of the phones of Indian politicians, Ministers, bureaucrats and fellow army officers to the tune of organizing and executing terror operations inside neighboring countries, mainly Pakistan, earning acute shame and disgrace for world’s 2nd largest army that is already grappling with corruption scams and breach of discipline issues, reveal the investigations of The Daily Mail
The story of the so called top-secret spy unit, named as the Technical Support Division, goes back to the days of War of Generals in the Indian army when General VK Singh was patronizing and supervising corruption in Indian army and thus wanted to keep political leaders on a back foot and also making all out efforts to keep General Bikram Singh becoming his successor at the military headquarters. The Daily Mail’s investigations indicate that General VK Singh, who was ideologically linked with Hindutva dominated BJP leadership, wanted Congress government to keep busy in matters with Pakistan, instead of focusing on scams emerging in army. He was also desirous of keeping in possession certain week points of political leaders and bureaucrats as well military officers to keep then on back foot with regard to raising the issue of prevailing of extreme corruption in the Indian army that was touching new hights after the emergence of scams like Sukhna Land Scam, Adarsh Housing Scam, CSD scam etc. VK Singh was also very much worried about his succession by his top most opponent in the army, General Bikram Singh. To get rid of all these fears, VK Singh eventually embarked upon the mission of forming TSD through which he wanted to the above mentioned tasks done. The purpose of TSD activities inside Pakistan and some other regional countries was keep Delhi busy in reforming its foreign affairs rather than getting into the matter of the army, with a fear of being attacked from any neighboring country, especially Pakistan, any moment.
Group photo of TSD team with Gen V.K Singh
These investigations indicate that with this in mind, VK Singh consulted his Military Intelligence Chief, Lt Gen R.K. Loomba and tasked him to raise this unauthorized and unsanctioned Unit,
Loomba then handpicked one of his finest spies, Colonel Hunny Bakshi, to raise and train the unit. Bakshi is among the few officers who joined the Directorate General of Military Intelligence directly from the Indian Military Academy. While serving in Occupied Kashmir he risked his life to save a Brigadier who was ambushed by insurgents.
Bakshi’s first pick was Lt Col Vinay B. aka Birdie, who had served in the Research and Analysis Wing, the external intelligence agency. He was awarded a gallantry award for his role in a classified operation. He was Bakshi’s point man against terrorist groups in the northeast and Occupied Kashmir.
Lt Col Sarvesh D. was the second man to be picked. He was part of a special action group of the National Security Guard. During counter-insurgency operation in Sopore, IOK, Sarvesh sensed that his men were in danger and barged into a house where Afghan terrorists were holed up. He killed them all and saved his men.
No 3 was Lt Col Alfred B., a seasoned negotiator. While serving with 28 Assam Rifles, he created assets in the dreaded United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA).
Lt Col Zir was the fourth. Known for his wide network among insurgent groups in the northeast,
Bakshi’s final pick, Lt Col Anurag aka Naughty. Diabetic and overweight, he looked quite unlike an Army spy. A training injury meant that he could not work out and, thus, he gained weight. Many laughed when Bakshi picked him.
The going was good for a short while. The reports of the Military Intelligence under Loomba, officially mentioned certain operations done by the team, including ones in the northeast and in Pakistan. Especially highlighted was one a terror attack on Inter-Services Intelligence office in Pakistan. “The unit was working very efficiently. It was an asset for the Army and the country,” said Loomba, about the TSD in his official report.
While the group was establishing contacts and assets in occupied Kashmir and trying to sneak into Pakistani Kashmir, the weather was getting rough in the Army HQ. General V.K. Singh and the defense ministry were slugging it out over his age. A.K. Antony was defense minister. It was perceived that Singh wanted to scuttle the chances of General Bikram Singh and the incumbent General Dalbir Singh Suhag succeeding him.
The ministry started questioning V.K. Singh’s initiatives, and top among them was the TSD. Singh’s detractors charged that TSD was snooping on Antony and defense ministry officials. Army sources say the equipment alleged to have been used by the TSD for snooping could not zero-in on a particular mobile number. So, it would have been very difficult, yet not impossible, to track Antony’s number using off-the-air interceptors. Moreover, all classified communication goes through encrypted RAX lines and not through regular service providers or devices.
As soon as he took over as Army chief, Bikram Singh ordered a probe into the activities of the TSD. He suspended its operations and virtually disbanded it. The Army HQ also wanted an inquiry into the TSD by the Central Bureau of Investigation. Antony rejected the demand fearing that this would affect India’s relations with countries where TSD operatives had been active.
Once Bikram Singh pulled the plug on the TSD, it was a free for all. Some reports indicate that that auditors had found Rs8 crore missing from TSD accounts. V.K. Singh used the money to bribe Ministers and to destabilize the Omar Abdullah-led government in Occupied Kashmir.
The TSD was also blamed for the public interest litigation that highlighted that Bikram Singh was awarded a gallantry medal for a fake encounter which happened in 2001 in IOK. The General was injured in the firefight. The Army said that an intruder from Pakistani side of LoC was killed in the encounter, while his family claimed that he was a local citizen of IOK and was a laborer. In April 2012, the Supreme Court dismissed the PIL and cleared the decks for Bikram Singh’s promotion as Army chief.
As the fight intensified, allegations and counter-charges were leaked to the media, and names of TSD officers were bandied about. In the midst of this came the Tatra truck scam, where V.K. Singh alleged that Lt Gen Tejinder Singh, former chief of the defence intelligence agency, had offered him Rs14 crore for clearing the procurement of 614 Tatra heavy-duty trucks.
The covert team got more bad press when Tejinder Singh, who was already facing a CBI probe in the scam, allegedly barged into the TSD premises in Delhi cantonment area for “collecting evidence”. Reports said that the Lieutenant General and a journalist were apprehended by sentries on duty.
At this stage, instead of moving against Tejinder Singh, the Army moved against Birdie, who was the officiating commander of the TSD then. A Court of Inquiry was set up to look into Birdie leaking a “sensitive document”. The document was a questionnaire sent by a TV channel to the Army’s public relations wing, seeking information about the TSD.
That was just the first inquiry. Officers and troops of the TSD have since been subjected to several inquiries. As haul of probes still being in process, the TSD officers were shunted out to nondescript jobs.
The founder of TSD, General V.K. Singh, who, after his retirement from army joined politics and is now a Minister. It is found that Singh is making all out efforts to some relief for the officers of the TSD whom he put in the dirty business. However, he is deemed not to get any major breakthrough from his government as the TSD story has gone exposed completely in front of the entire global community and even the current army leadership at New Delhi believes that any relief to these TSD operators would earn more disgrace to the army that is already combating a haul of scams of corruption and breach of disciple etc.
The leader of the team, Bakshi, is with a unit in Ladakh, where his job is to count snow-jackets and shoes being stocked for the winter. Despite being close to the Chinese border, the glorified spy has no role in monitoring activities of Chinese troops.
Some reports also indicate that when General Bikram Singh ordered grilling of Bakhshi for TSD activities, he faked mental illness and got himself enrolled for psychiatric treatment in a Delhi hospital. He even threatened to commit suicide publically if General Bikram’s investigators would continue to grill him and conveyed this threat to Defense Ministry and the then Prime Minister through his wife
Indian Army asked Bakhshi’s wife to appear before a Court of Inquiry ordered by a formation under its Western Command. However she never did so. Instead, she alleged that a senior officer had warned her that it was dangerous to dodge the military court.
She has now written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking relief for her husband. She wrote that he has been subjected to “extreme humiliation, indignity and fear by the hands of the top-most hierarchy of country’s Army”.
All top goons of the illegal TSD are in Bakshi’s shoes. Birdie is with the Military Engineering Services in Shillong, where he oversees plumbers and masons who maintain the official quarters of Air Force officers. Sarvesh, the skydiver, maintains land records of a small formation in Jharkhand. Alfred used to manage a poly-clinic in Deolali in Maharashtra. After his father, a retired Major, wrote to the Army that his son was threatening to kill himself, Alfred was posted closer to home as a National Cadet Corps officer in Rajasthan. Zir is at a poly-clinic in Karnataka, clearing medical bills of retired officers and jawans. Naughty, too, is with a medical facility in Madhya Pradesh.
More than the humiliation of these postings that they earned by following the illegal and wrong orders of VK Singh, the officers are tormented by the strain on their families for being exposed as terrorists rather than being professional army officers. Two are facing divorce proceedings, with their wives alleging prolonged years of separation while hundreds of thousands of Indian army soldiers are serving as policemen in IOK, being separated from their wives for years and years, without proper vacations.
The 68th Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China.
— The Daily Mail - People's Daily