Former intelligence officer B Raman claims in his yet to be released book The Kaoboys of R&AW -- Down memory lane that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh wanted arms training for their cadre to counter Pakistan-sponsored terrorists in the border region of Jammu.
Raman writes in his book, 'In a potentially controversial move, Vinod Pandey (Cabinet Secretary in the 1989 V P Singh government) wanted R&AW to organise clandestine arms training for the cadres of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in the Jammu area so that they could be used for countering the Pakistan-sponsored terrorists.'
However, the RSS has staunchly denied Raman's claim and says his allegations are baseless. Ram Madhav, member of the RSS's national executive told this correspondent, "This is totally baseless. The RSS never had any such plans to take training in Jammu."
But Raman gives further details in his book that suggest that the RSS seemed serious, since two meetings were held to discuss the modalities of arms training.
Raman writes, 'One had the impression that this idea had originated from L K Advani, the BJP leader, who was exercising pressure on the government to start this training quickly. The R&AW felt very uncomfortable about this idea. Under sustained pressure from Pandey, it held two secret meetings with a representative of the Jammu branch of the RSS to discuss the modalities of this training. The first meeting was held in a Jammu hotel and the second in Hotel Ambassador in Delhi.'
Such a controversial proposal was considered by Prime Minister V P Singh because his government was dependent on the Bharatiya Janata Party's support. But, when the BJP's support got shaky the idea of military training to the Hindu group was shelved.
Raman writes further, 'By then serious differences had cropped up between V P Singh and the BJP over Advani's plan to take a rath yatra to Ayodhya to seek public support to its demand for the construction of a Ram temple in the place then occupied by the Babri Masjid. Pandey directed the R&AW not to take any further action on the project, which remained a non-starter.'
B Raman, who served in Research and Analysis's Wing, India's external agency, for 26 years, has written on his life in R&AW. He has interwoven events of national importance and R&AW's participation in it while remaining behind the scenes.
Giving details of the buildup of tension in Jammu and Kashmir [Images], Raman writes that when Cabinet Secretary Vinod Pandey appointed Gary Saxena as the governor of J&K things started changing.
Pandey started associating the R&AW actively with counter-measures against Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence, and asked it to step up its covert actions against Pakistan.
Raman writes, 'He (Pandey) set up a PSYWAR committee consisting of officers from the R&AW, the IB, the MHA, the MEA, the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to counter the ISI's PSYWAR directed towards the Muslims of the state. An officer of the Indian Information Service on deputation to the R&AW was appointed as the convenor of this committee.
'This committee recommended that R&AW should procure urgently from its operational funds a large number of jammers to jam Pakistani broadcasts and telecasts and the Border Security Force was asked to operate these jammers. At the request of the committee, the R&AW set up mobile broadcasting stations in the state to broadcast to the people of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir and the Northern Areas (Gilgit and Baltistan). When the terrorists tried to prevent the holding of college examinations in the Valley, this committee had the students flown to Jammu at the government's cost to take the examination. When the terrorists tried to prevent traders from other parts of India from going to the state in order to buy dry fruits, saffron and products of the local cottage industries, this committee had the producers with their products flown to Delhi at the government's cost to sell their products at special Kashmiri trade fairs organised for this purpose.
'Vinod Pandey made the R&AW responsible for implementing all these schemes. Highly impressed by the operational capability of the R&AW, the new government started associating it with all counter-measures. The various steps taken gave a breathing time for Saxena, the new governor, to work out his strategy for revamping the intelligence and counter-terrorism apparatus and start implementing it. The appointment of Saxena as the governor was a shrewd move since he enjoyed the trust of all parties ---and particularly of the Congress and Rajiv Gandhi, who had a very high regard for his professionalism.'
Raman's book has many such details about India's contemporary history which makes it interesting reading.
Buy your copy of The Kaoboys of R&AW -- Down Memory Lane at the online military bookshop at www.lancerpublishers.com