Nuts and Bolts of Narayanan and Indian National
21 February 2007
Kelath (M.K.) Narayanan is a nuts and bolts man in the Indian bureaucracy.
Remember the hilarious scene in
Chaplin’s classic Modern Times (1936) movie, where the lovable tramp
character endures the monotonous factory assembly line job of tightening nuts
with a spanner.
speed of the factory belt of nuts is accelerated, the tramp tries to keep pace
and loses his mind. His hands go berserk. Thereafter, whatever the tramp sees
(including the buttons in the dress of a fellow woman worker), they appear as
nuts and the tramp tries to tighten them with his spanner. Then, the tramp is
taken in a ride along the gears of a gigantic wheel and he keeps on tightening
the nuts with his spanner.
1964 autobiography, Chaplin had identified the origin of his idea for this
scene. To quote,
remembered an interview I had had with a bright young reporter on the New
York World. Hearing that I was visiting Detroit, he had told me of
the factory-belt system there – a harrowing story of big industry luring
healthy young men off the farms, who, after four or five years at the belt
system, became nervous wrecks. It was that conversation that gave me the
idea for Modern Times…” [Book:
Autobiography, by Charles Chaplin,
Penguin Books, 1966, pp.377-378].
tramp character in Chaplin’s Modern Times, M.K.Narayanan (who has spent
his whole professional career in the gumshoe assembly line of India’s security
services and who currently serves as the National Security Advisor) similarly
sees everything in India and its neighborhood as spies and terrorists. Why? He
has reached the top of the gigantic wheel of Indian bureaucracy.
Narayanan’s speech delivered at
the 43rd Munich Conference on Security Policy on February 11th
has received some publicity in Sinhalese-oriented print and electronic media,
for the understandable reason of his bad-mouthing of LTTE. I’ll provide details
below for why Narayanan is dyspeptic on LTTE. First, let me dissect Narayanan’s
speech briefly and expose this supreme gumshoe’s drift.
Nutty Speech of Narayanan
summarise the thrust of Narayanan’s speech, “terrorist outfits” employ the
following eleven “common methods” “to generate funds”; (1) Voluntary
contributions, (2) Forced/compulsoty donations, (3) State support/sponsorship,
(4) Extortion and use of coercive methods, (5) Association with Criminal
Syndicates, (6) Utilisation of legitimate business enterprises, (7) Stock market
operations, (8) Misuse of banking channels, (9) Narcotics, (10) Counterfeit
currency, and (11) Charities.
these eleven methods, Narayanan has identified LTTE by name with three methods,
namely voluntary contributions, utilisation of legitimate business enterprises
and narcotics. Among these three, the first two are legal and approved. Its only
the narcotics method, which has a negative image in social evaluation. I have
his Munich speech, Narayanan has failed to provide any authenticating supporting
evidence (such as conviction of LTTE personnel in court case within India, which
is his parish of influence) for LTTE involvement in narcotics trade. Thus, his
charge against LTTE can be dismissed as mere high sounding gas, due to
regurgitation of anti-LTTE pabulum circulated by self-anointed “terrorism
specialists” like Peter Chalk, Bruce Hoffman, Rohan Gunaratna and Dayan
the problem with gumshoe analysts and journalist hacks is that they commit the
cardinal sin of analyzing trends without proper controls. Is it only the
“terrorist outfits” who use the above-stated eleven “common methods” to
“generate funds”? How about comparing the fund-generation methods with other
segments of the society? I list some; political election campaigns in
“democracies” like USA and India, banks in USA and India, gumshoe agencies in
“democracies” like USA and India, amusement industries including Bollywood
(about which Mr.Narayanan should know something)? Are these so-called
respectable segments of civilization are allergic to the so-called “common
methods” show-cased by Mr.Narayanan, such as “extortion and use of coercive
methods”, “association with criminal syndicates”, “stock market operations”,
“misuse of banking channels”, “narcotics”, and “counterfeit currency”?
Narayanan as the Eelam Policy Panjandrum in 1980s
is now touted, in a
biographical stub of Wikipedia entry, as a “specialist in Sri Lankan
affairs”. Huh!! If this is so, history has not been kind to this “specialist in
Sri Lankan affairs”. I provide below the complete text of a box report which
appeared in the Time magazine of April 3, 1989, for an objective
evaluation. Narayanan was a pillar of Eelam policy in New Delhi. Though for
obvious reasons (of unnamed sources and time deadlines which smudges the reports
appearing in the weekly newsmagazine) one cannot agree with all the sentences in
this Time magazine’s box report, the gist of it is not inaccurate.
" Sri Lanka: Case Study of a Disaster
[courtesy: Time magazine-Asian Edition,
April 3, 1989, pp.12-13]
Lanka was the watershed”, says Ashley Tellis, a US expert on South Asian
security issues. “India showed it was willing to use force even when there
was no clear-cut security threat”. Agrees a US State Department official:
“Although India in the past has had strained relations with nearly all its
neighbors, it had not taken advantage of its preponderant power to make them
toe the line until the India-Sri Lanka accord of July 1987”.
story of how and why India recruited, trained and armed thousands of
minority Tamils from Sri Lanka and then sent them back to the island to wage
a guerrrilla war against the government of then President J.R.Jayewardene
has never been fully told. To this day New Delhi denies its former
sponsorship of several Tamil separatist factions, but interviews with former
Tamil guerrilla leaders, Sri Lankan intelligence operatives and Indian
diplomats reveal that from the early 1980s onward, Indian officials viewed
support for the Tamil cause as first and foremost a means of asserting
Indian influence in Sri Lanka. The same sources describe how Indian
intelligence agents were so deeply involved in orchestrating the insurgency
that at times they provided the guerrillas with detailed operational plans.
Delhi’s sponsorship of the separatists had its origins in Jayewardene’s 1977
election victory, which drove Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike, a friend
and ally of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, from power. Jayewardene soon
angered Mrs.Gandhi by adopting pro-Western foreign and economic policies
that New Delhi interpreted as a rejection of its leadership in South Asia.
Jayewardene applied for membership in the Association of Southeast Asian
Nations; Indian officials suspected that he might even be on the verge of
offering military bases and listening posts to the US.
domestic politics, Jayewardene made a fateful error: he spurned every
opportunity to reach an accomodation with Sri Lanka’s Tamils – 2 million
among 12 million Sinhalese – who rightly felt they were being cut off from
higher education and government jobs. A few dozen alienated Tamil youths
formed underground groups that advocated the creation of Eelam, an
independent Tamil nation in the northern and eastern parts of the island. In
1982 agents of the Research and Analysis Wing, India’s foreign intelligence
agency, recruited one of those groups, the Tamil Eelam Liberation
Organization, and brought them to India for training in espionage and
sabotage. An Indian diplomat who was deeply involved in policy vis-à-vis Sri
Lanka during that period says it was no accident that RAW chose TELO, which
had a large criminal element and was politically unsophisticated. “TELO,
which had no goals and no ideology,” he says, “was the perfect private army
In July 1983, triggered
by the ambush and slaughter of 13 soldiers by Tamil terrorists, Sinhalese
mobs in Colombo attacked Tamils in their homes and shops, killing hundreds.
The communal rioting shocked India’s own Tamil population of 50 million.
Soon thereafter, RAW began to recruit hundreds of members of at least five
Tamil separatist groups. Much of the training took place at the Indian
army’s Dehra Dun complex in the Himalayan foothills, where the recruits were
taught how to handle small arms and how to make land mines using gelignite,
which was to become the explosive of choice for one of the groups, the
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
late 1984, hundreds of trained fighters were back in Sri Lanka, where they
mounted acts of sabotage against government facilities. When attacks on
military tagets failed to make Jayewardene budge, RAW encouraged killings of
Sinhalese civilians to put more pressure on Colombo.
Says Uma Maheswaran, leader of the People’s Liberation Organization of
Tamil Eelam: “A RAW officer asked us to throw a grenade into a Sinhalese
cinema or put a bomb in a bus or market in a Sinhalese town. Only we and
the Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front refused.” Agrees an
Eelam People’s leader: “The RAW agents offered us money to massacre
Sinhalese. But we refused.”
Tigers, by contrast, were cooperative. In May 1985 two busloads of Tigers
drove into the ancient Sinhalese capital of Anuradhapura and, in the town’s
main bus station, opened fire with automatic weapons, slaughtering 143
civilians there and elsewhere. According to one of the participants in the
killing spree, Tiger leader Vilupillai Prabakaran was in radio contact with
RAW agents during and after the massacre.
killings prompted the Colombo government to agree
first time to negotiate with the guerrillas. The talks collapsed, but
the new Indian Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, seemed reluctant to allow RAW
to escalate the level of fighting. Later, when India stepped up its support
of TELO, the Tigers showed their displeasure at New Delhi’s favoritism by
attacking TELO camps and murdering some 150 of its members, thereby
neutralizing RAW’s favorite Tamil clients. RAW agents were apoplectic, but
realized that they would have to work with the Tigers as the dominant Tamil
force. In May 1987, when the Sri Lankan army launched an offensive against
Tiger strongholds in the Jaffna peninsula, New Delhi obliquely warned
Jayewardene not to push too hard, lest India be obliged to intervene. The
Sri Lankan President appealed to Pakistan, China and the US for help, but
got little encouragement.
last straw for Jayewardene came in June 1987, when India began training the
Tigers in the use of surface-to-air missles – and then
accord between New Delhi and Colombo. Under its terms Indian
peacekeeping troops would disarm the guerrillas and Sri Lanka’s Tamils would
be granted a measure of regional autonomy. The annex to the accord (an
exchange of letters between Gandhi and Jayewardene)
to Sri Lanka’s granting India a voice in its foreign and military policy.
Jayewardene felt he had little choice but to accede. Once the pact was
signed, on July 29, 1987, India no longer had neeed for the guerrillas. A
few weeks later it blocked the Tigers’ attempt to take control of a new
provincial council in northern and eastern Sri Lanka. At the same time, New
Delhi ordered its force of 15,000 soldiers, which by then had been deployed
on the island, to disarm
only then that what had looked like an Indian success story showed its
disastrous downside. Law-and-order collapsed in large parts of southern Sri
Lanka as Sinhalese extremists denounced the accord as a treasonous sellout
and rallied Sinhalese support with appeals to anti-Indian patriotism.
Furious, the Tigers struck at Indian army posts in northern Sri Lanka in the
first phase of a new insurgency that persists to this day. Some 800 Indian
soldiers have died at the hands of the Tigers. India still has 100,000
troops and paramilitary forces committed to the Sri Lankan operation, yet it
has failed to put down the guerrillas. The simmering conflict may not be
India’s Viet Nam, but it provides the lesson for New Delhi that even an
emerging superpower must recognize its limits."
I wish to
focus only on a single item in this box report which appeared in the Time
magazine of April 13, 1989. Uma Maheswaran, the then leader of PLOTE, had
brashly revealed that the RAW operatives had induced his cadres to throw
grenades and bombs to kill Sinhalese civilians in a bus, market or cinema
theater. Four months later, the same Uma Maheswaran was assassinated in Colombo
by unknown gunmen. Even now, I have doubts that there cannot be any link between
Uma Maheswaran’s expose of RAW operatives and his subsequent assassination.
from the Verma Commission Report (1992)
online vendor, in late 2004, I was able to purchase a copy of Justice J.S.Verma
Commission Inquiry Report (June 1992) on the
1991 assassination of Rajiv
Gandhi. This was after I had completed writing my
analysis on Rajiv Gandhi assassination for my ‘Pirabhakaran Phenomenon’
text, serialized between 2001 and 2003. In this Inquiry Report, M.K.Narayanan
receives two not-so favorable mentions, pertaining to his then role as the
Director of Intelligence Bureau (DIB) in 1991. I quote these below.
Chapter XI of Verma Commission Report
“11.05: It is of some significance that a report dated 22.5.1991 of
M.K.Narayanan, DIB, to the Prime Minister which is in the documents of
the Central Government and is annexed as ANNEXURE XXXVI, made a mention of
some ‘video pictures and stated that video pictures of this part of the
meeting are presently being scanned to try and identify the lady.’ The
‘lady’ referred was the suspected human bomb mentioned in the DIB’s report.
This part of the report of the DIB mentioning the fact that scanning of
video pictures was being done to identify the ‘lady’ does indicate that on
22.5.1991, there were available video pictures of that part of the meeting
which could reveal the identification of the suspected human bomb. No
such video pictures were made available by the S.I.T.[i.e. Special
Investigation Team] or Tamil Nadu police and it was specifically stated by
the S.I.T. Chief, D.R.Karthikeyan that no other video cassettes were
available with the S.I.T.” (page 53).
Chapter XIV of Verma Commission Report
“14.24: The Commission is left with the impression that the DIB
M.K.Narayanan was not satisfied with the security arrangements for Rajiv
Gandhi and was apprehensive about his safety but for some undisclosed
reason he was ineffective and has chosen to maintain silence even now.
If this impression of the Commission be correct, such disability in the
holder of a high office is disturbing and its cause needs to be discovered
and eradicated for the health of the polity.” (page 75).
Isn’t the Commissioner Verma had euphemistically inferred that Narayanan as the
DIB was rather impotent (Commissioner had used the words ‘ineffective’ and
‘disability’) in his professional ability as the top dog of India’s Intelligence
hierarchy? Commissioner Verma also had inferred that the “cause needs to be
discovered and eradicated for the health of the polity.” The cause is simple. To
honor Chaplin, I’d name it as ‘Nuts and Bolts Syndrome’(NABS) of a gumshoe