Why Karnataka CM Doesn’t Trust His Intelligence Chiefs

In the last four years, four intelligence chiefs have been sacked by the Chief Minister.

3 min read
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It’s a position of power, one that’s hailed as the trusted lieutenant to the government or the state’s spymaster. But in Karnataka, under Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, no chief of intelligence has been allowed to get too comfortable in his seat.

In the last four years, four intelligence chiefs have been sacked by the Chief Minister, with none being allowed to serve the full term of three years. These include IPS officers from different ranks of IGP, ADGP and even DGP.

Chief Ministers before Siddaramaiah had always kept their trusted officers close, ensuring continuous intelligence gathering, especially when it came to political rivals. Siddaramaiah, however, has been nonchalant in firing his intelligence chiefs.


The Chief Minister Has His Own Intelligence Network

The Quint spoke to officers, well-versed with the intelligence gathering system in the state, and all of them said that the Chief Minister, over a period, has sent a strong message that he can work independent of the intelligence inputs.

The officers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that the Chief Minister has an intelligence network of his own, which was efficient. “He gets his dose of information from his networks, which consists of media persons, his party workers and his trusted advisers outside the police department. And he had made sure that the police officers working under him were aware of this during meetings,” said one senior IPS officer.


How Does the Intelligence Department Work?

The intelligence department is divided into several parts – State Intelligence, City Special Branch, District Special Branch. While the district and city intelligence come under the SPs and police commissioners, state intelligence comes under one officer, who reports to the Chief Minister directly.

Although the state intelligence is supposed to provide information to the government on decision making, officers say, much of the intelligence gathering focuses on political intelligence.


Old Methods Hurting Intelligence Gathering

According to senior officers, in the era of WhatsApp and Facebook, bureaucratic practices often delay information being relayed to the Chief Minister.

“Junior level officers tasked with compiling the report think several times to figure out if certain information is relevant or not. But in the meantime, the same is already flashed on the news channels,” said an officer.


Intelligence Failures Add to the Woes

With no imminent threat from the opposition, and the Chief Minister having his own network, the intelligence wing has been required to focus on law and order.

A series of failures has eroded the government’s trust on its intelligence chiefs.

DGP MN Reddi was recently shown the door after failing to come up with warnings and counter-strategies when communal violence broke out in Mangaluru and other parts of Dakshina Kannada in July. Prior to that, ADGP ANS Prasad was removed from the post in 2016 after failing to report a possible backlash following the suicide of a senior police officer.


Lack of Manpower

Meanwhile, officers cry foul that the department doesn’t have enough strength to run an effective intelligence department.

According to the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D), as of 2016 Karnataka’s intelligence department had only 58% of the sanctioned strength.

The bureau says that Karnataka needs 224 sub-inspectors, but has only 29. Also, there are just 54 inspectors in the state intelligence while the requirement is 74.

Even in the constabulary the numbers are not strong. Karnataka needs 589 constables for intelligence gathering, but the department has only 361 constables.

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