Fifty-second edition of the N&O column / Spooks newsletter

(Date: Sun, 01 Sep 2002 13:52:49 +0200)

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Intelligence profile : India


Following the independence from England in 1947, the subcontinent was divided into the secular state of India and the smaller Muslim state of Pakistan. A third war between the two countries in 1971 resulted in East Pakistan becoming the separate nation of Bangladesh.


Southern Asia, bordering the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal, China, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Nepal and Pakistan. The Republic of India -India in short, with capital New Delhi, is a federal republic.

Administrative divisions

Military branches

Army, Navy (including naval air arm), Air Force, various security or paramilitary forces (includes Border Security Force, Assam Rifles, Rashtriya Rifles, and National Security Guards).

Intelligence and Security

Frequencies and callsigns of Indian paramilitary organizations: 7000, 7010, 7080, 7085, 14044, 14130 and 18075 kHz
Callsigns noted on the Indian frequencies: 06, 24, 48, 59

All-India Radio Monitoring Service (AIRMS)

The AIRMS monitors all non-encrypted broadcasts from countries of interest to India, like Pakistan, China, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Burma and Afghanistan, and works closely together with the RAW and Military Intelligence.

Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC)

This agency analyzes intelligence data collected by the Research and Analysis Wing, the Intelligence Bureau and the various military intelligence directorates (Military Intel., Air Intel., Navy Intel.)

Research and Analysis Wing (RAW)

India's foremost agency is the Research and Analysis Wing. RAW reports to the Prime Minister and is reportedly involved in disinformation campaigns, espionage and sabotage against Pakistan and other countries.

Throughout the Soviet/Afghan War the RAW was responsible for the planning and execution of terrorist activities in Pakistan to deter Pakistan from support of Afghan liberation movement against India's ally, the Soviet Union. The assistance provided to RAW by the KGB enabled RAW to arrange terrorist attacks in Pakistani cities throughout the Afghan War. The defeat of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan did not end the role of RAW in Pakistan, with reports that suggest that India has established a training camp in East Punjab, where non-Muslim Pakistanis are trained for terrorist activities.

Intelligence Bureau (IB)

IB is the domestic intelligence agency and reputedly the world's oldest intelligence agency. Little is known about this agency. It seems to be in charge of intelligence collection in the border area and domestic surveillance. Its operations are shrouded in secrecy. IB reports directly to the Cabinet Secretariat.

Ministry of defence

The MoD controls quite a lot of intelligence organizations, including:

The MoD is also directly or indirectly responsible for a number of paramilitary organizations, like the Rastriya Rifles, the Assam Rifles, the National Guard and the Coast Guard. A short overview of them will follow.

Directorate of Air Intelligence (DAI)

Air Force intelligence is tasked with imagery intelligence collection, using satellites and reconnaissance aircraft. Their aircraft are well equipped with modern SIGINT/ELINT/EW systems.

Directorate of Navy Intelligence (DNI)

The navy maintains a large range of airborne, surface and submarine ELINT and ESM systems.

SIGINT directorate

The Signals Intelligence Directorate of the Indian Army is India's largest SIGINT organisation. The directorate is administratively responsible for the Central Monitoring Organisation, which maintains SIGINT stations located across the country.

Aviation Research Centre (ARC)

The ARC is responsible for airborne SIGINT operations. The photo reconnaissance flights (PHOTINT) are mainly along the Pakistan and Chinese borders and over Kashmir. The aircraft are also equipped with advanced signal monitoring equipment.

Joint cipher bureau

This bureau is responsible for SIGINT and cipher activities and facilitates other military branches. Because of the historic ties with the KGB, JCB has still a large amount of Russian DF and monitoring equipment.

Defence security corps

Provides security at MoD sites.

Special frontier force

Formed for disruption of logistics and other tasks, including disruption of the enemy behind its lines.

Special security bureau

A specialised commando group for operations and intelligence gathering behind enemy line.

Rastriya rifles

Rastriya Rifles is a para military force under the operational control of the Ministry of Defence. Its tasks includes internal security duties and, in war time, rear area security. The force is deployed in Jammu & Kashmir and the North-Eastern States.

Assam rifles

The Assam Rifles is the oldest para military force in the country. The Assam rifles are presently controlling the rebels in the North-Eastern region of India. They also guard the Sino-Indian and Indo-Myanmar borders.

Border security force

After the conflict with Pakistan in the Rann of Kutch in 1965, the government decided that it would be better to have a permanent central border security force rather than the regular police, who guarded the border up to then. The Border Security Force was formed in 1965 and its main tasks are guarding the borders and protect the people living in the border area.

Indo-Tibetan border police

The ITBP was formed in the early 1960's as an extra security against possible Chinese aggression. Its tasks are basically the same as BSF's tasks.

The territorial army

The Territorial Army is a voluntary part-time citizens army. Composed of non-military persons who want to help out in case of need.

National cadet corps

The Cadet Corps consists of an Army Wing, a Navy Wing and an Air Wing.

National Security Guards (NSG)
a.k.a. Black Cat Commandos

NSG, founded in 1986, is a federal contingency deployment force, formed to combat terrorism and to protect government officials and other VIPs. It is further tasked with neutralising terrorist threats to vital installations, responding to piracy in the air and on the land. NSG has two branches: the Special Action Group (SAG) and the Special Rangers Group (SRG).

Coast guard

The Coast Guard is headed by a Director General Coast Guard with HQ at New Delhi. It has three Regional Headquarters at Bombay, Madras, and Port Blair, one District Headquarters in each of the nine maritime states, two in the Andaman and Nicobar Region and four Coast Guard Stations, one each at Vadinar, Okha,. Tuticorin and Mandapam. It also has Air Stations at Daman and Madras and Air Enclaves at Goa. Calcutta and Port Blair.

Various paramilitary organizations report to the Ministry of Interior:

Railway protection force

A fairly large paramilitary force of ca 60,000 personnel, tasked with the protection of everything railway related.

Central reserve police force

The Central Reserve police Force is involved in maintaining India's internal security. They are brought into action when there are natural calamities, etc. The majority of the forces are deployed in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir to fight terrorism.

Central industrial security force

The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) was formed for the better protection and security of government owned industrial undertakings.

Home guards

The Home Guards serves as an auxiliary police force. Tasks include maintenance of law and order and internal security; provide help to the community in any kind of emergency such as an air raid, fire, cyclone, earthquake, epidemic, etc.

Rapid action force

Founded in 1992, the Rapid Action Force is specialised in suppressing large scale riots.

Fire services

The Fire Services are part of Directorate General of Civil Defence (DGCD) and are administered by the states / union territories under the state governments acts and rules.


A wide variety of internet/radio/tv/newspaper sources including IPCS, the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), "Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) in South Asia" by Desmond Ball, CIA World Factbook, Library of Congress (Area Handbook).

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