India’s external intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) had raised concerns over the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act with the Union Home Ministry earlier this year.
The concerns were placed before the Joint Committee of Parliament in January 2019 as Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, before the bill rolled out again and passed this December.
According to the Deccan Herald sources, the agency was concerned that Pakistani intelligence agency, the ISI could use the provisions in the new amended act to push “their own people” posing as Pakistani or Bangladeshi non-Muslim to attain citizenship and use that against India.
“…our only concern has been that the agencies who are inimical to us should not have a legal framework within which they can exploit our situation and infiltrate their own people into our own country. That is a matter of great concern for us,” a RAW official was quoted as saying in the panel report placed in Parliament.
The committee had an extensive discussion over the issue behind closed doors. However, the Centre decided to go further with it after they came to power again in 2019.
The concerns that were raised when the Citizenship bill 2016 was tabled in January this year and got lapsed as the 16th Lok Sabha ended its term. The RAW expressed their disappointment and the apprehensions they reserved against the act.
However, the Centre came up with more amendments that were successfully passed in both houses of the Parliament.
The amendments made in the Citizenship Act does not mention ‘persecuted’ minorities even though the Home Minister in his speech in both the houses mentioned the word. This magnifies the impending threat of spies from neighbouring countries.
The Logical Indian reached out to former intelligence specialist for RAW and Indian police officer who has served for 19 years in foreign intelligence service, Vappala Balachandran. He retired as a Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, Government of India in 1995.
“Spies can be of any religion. Is there any rule that only Muslims can be Pakistani spies? In my experience, most of the spies arrested in India for Pakistan are Hindus,” Balachandran says on the looming security threat on India.
He further explains that it is easier to send a Hindu to spy on India than sending a Muslim. “Now, with CAA and Bharatiya Janata Party’s evident inclination towards Hindus, the spies can fabricate moving tales of horror and can easily seek refuge in India,” adds concerned Balachandran.
He agrees to the concerns raised by the Intelligence Bureau and RAW and says, “This just shows people have no idea how spying is done. They (RAW) might have raised fear I am not aware of it as these things remain to be confidential. But, if they have done so, it is absolutely correct. Whether it is spying or terrorism, it can easily be carried out by the unchecked waves of migrants.”
Balachandran corroborates his stance by mentioning the cases of spies happened in yesteryears. He says, “For instance when Tamils were persecuted in Sri Lanka, a wave of refugees came. The then government of India, under the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, had to shelter them on the insistence of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, MG Ramachandran.”
Because of this, India witnessed an influx of spies sent by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). And, they not only did intelligence work but terrorism as well.
Balachandran stands by the view that the influx of spies largely happens because of the unchecked migration from the neighbouring countries.
This can also be substantiated by turning pages to the past – the year 1978 — written down in history as the darkest chapter of the Indian Army. Under the flagship of Sarwan Dass and Aya Singh (both Hindus), Military Intelligence of Pakistan, between 1978-1979 sent across 50-odd persons to India and managed to infiltrate 168 Infantry Brigade in Samba, Jammu-Kashmir, to seek information on Indian Army’s deposition in Western India.