In a recent FB post, General VK Singh revealed how various media houses worked in tandem in order to defame Technical Support Division (TSD) and was eventually disbanded scandalously in 2012.
The covert-action unit – TSD – was set up following 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. It was led by the retired General VK Singh who served as the Indian Army’s Chief of Staff from 2010 to 2012. According to General VK Singh, the new agency “was set up to accomplish covert operations in other countries. It was a very important wing because it was the only unit which could perform this task. Given the nature of the work, the whole unit worked in a secretive and ‘camouflaged manner’.” He further added, “TSD is a covert operation agency, activities of which are directly related to the safety of the soldiers fighting on the borders, retribution on the enemy and the security of the citizens. By its very nature TSD operation was ‘top secret’.” A top-secret agency like TSD should have been never publicized in the interest of the nation, but for Indian media political interest of their masters’ matters more than the national interest.
Various Indian media houses carried out a series of reports revealing everything about TSD, and maligning General VK Singh. Leaking information about a secret agency is no less than treason.
General VK Singh in his FB post mentioned an India Today report of March 2, 2012, which stated, “MOD officials say they are also concerned about the activities of a shadowy unit called the Technical Support Division (TSD) within MI, which has reportedly been equipped with surveillance equipment. Who the targets were and for what purpose, is still not clear. TSD is headed by a colonel and has five lieutenant-colonels from the MI directorate who are posted at military stations across the country. The name of a retired director general of MI too has been linked to this covert outfit.”
The unwritten understanding between members of the media that they will not write about each other is laudable, but what…
On 20th September 2012 Indian Express reported that the Army has appointed Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia to head a panel that will review the functioning and efficacy of a controversial Military Intelligence (MI) unit that gained notoriety following several allegations of irregularities and a recent case of espionage involving its head clerk. Further, in its report, the Indian Express referred TDS as “the dirty tricks department of the former Army chief.”
On 20th September 2013 ‘The Indian Express’ published a story titled, “Unit set up by VK Singh used secret funds to try and topple J&K government, block Bikram Singh: Army probe”. The report stated, “Misusing secret service funds to destabilise the Omar Abdullah government in Jammu and Kashmir, to pay off an NGO to try change the line of succession in the Army top brass, to buy off-air interception equipment, to conduct “unauthorised” covert operations — a string of alleged irregularities by the Technical Services Division (TSD), a controversial Military Intelligence (MI) unit set up by former Army Chief General V K Singh in May 2010, should come under the scanner of an external agency like the CBI.”
General VK Singh rubbished the report of Indian Express. He said, “Indian Express leak made a blatantly false allegation that Army had paid money to J&K politicians to overthrow the duly elected Government of the State. This was done with the deliberate intention to promote enmity between officers and soldiers of the Indian Army serving in Jammu & Kashmir and the government/people of that state thereby causing disturbance to harmony and national-integration.” And those who authored such false report are guilty of offenses under Section 153A and 153 of IPC. He also said, “This is a clear case of acting in a manner prejudicial to the defence of India and the security of the State and therefore attracts Sections 3 (1) and (2) of the National Security Act 1980.”
General VK Singh in his blog has also accused The Hindu of manufacturing stories against him. He also cited relevant links to validate his claims.
Just because of mindless witch hunting against the TSD it was scrapped, and the nation paid the price of it. The Sunday Guardian report, 28th Sep 2013, has quoted an army officer saying that the Samba attack by Pakistan based elements could have been avoided if the Technical Services Division (TSD) had not been disbanded. The TSD used to feed Army real-time intelligence, operate behind enemy lines, and engage with the public both overtly and covertly and engage them psychologically. And suddenly because of one wrong decision, the Indian Army lost an important asset. According to Swarajya report, when the TSD was active there was a significant decrease in fatalities in the years 2011 and 2012. Since then the numbers increased sharply. The year 2013 saw a lot of bloodsheds. This was also the starting of Pakistani Border Action Team actions, and the beheadings started taking place. However, when the TSD was active there was peace in the valley and also along the border. In 2011, the situation was such that Gen V K Singh called it ‘a summer of peace’.
The Sunday Guardian quoted a senior officer saying, “The decision to finish off TSD was political and not military. It was done to show (former COAS) General V.K. Singh in a bad light.” Another officer claimed that “the TSD enabled our boys to get prior information on the movements of terror groups, so that these were caught before sneaking into India”. He also claimed that “despite the effort by the ISI to create a Kashmir Intifada by motivating youngsters to pelt stones at security forces, the situation was quickly brought under control.” Another officer said that the TSD was capable to exploit technical means to operate deep within Pakistan and find out the trajectories of terror plots against targets in India. The Sunday Guardian quoted a former officer saying, “At a cost of just Rs 20-30 crore annually, the Army was able to finally reach the actual sources of terror operations and not just tackle the symptoms.”
The TSD carried out infowar as well. It showed the horrendous reality of Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistan Army Personnel. An officer said, “We showed the valley that life was hell on the other side, and this hurt the pro-Pakistan groups who painted a rosy picture of the other side.” His colleague claimed that “at least three dozen terror plots against targets in India were discovered because of the TSD, and foiled”.
A secret unit like TSD which was no less than a national asset suffered damage because of dirty political games. After the Pathankot Terror attack, the then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had said, “Intelligence which was developed, whether it is Deep Assets or the attempt of TSD formation by Gen VK Singh, fell to the political aspirations, to the political policies and political scoring point.” A dirty nexus of media-intellectuals-political leaders and bureaucrats brought down a national asset – TSD.