Updated: September 15, 2020 9:22:30 am
That there is a distinct strategic imperative in the monitoring of Indian “targets” by Chinese company Zhenhua Data is evident in the fact that the top brass of the country’s military and scientific establishment figure on the list, an investigation by The Indian Express has revealed.
These include Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat to at least 60 senior serving and retired officers of the military, including at least 14 former chiefs of the three services and scientists from the Atomic Energy Commission to Indian Space Research Organisation.
Among those being watched are top scientists at the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL); the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB); the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC); the Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD); and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
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From ISRO’s low-cost missions to the moon and Mars and securing India’s place in the international market for space products and services to the nuclear arena where a deal with the US helped break India’s long nuclear winter, this network of institutions and organisations are key to the country’s security and strategic interests.
Indeed, a scrutiny of the list confirms Zhenhua’s interest in their personnel.
Satish Sharma, CMD, NPCIL, who got a two-year extension last year, is on the list with Sudhinder Thakur, distinguished NPCIL scientist who was appointed chairman of the Technical Committee for exploration of sites for setting up future nuclear power projects appointed by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE).
Also present are nuclear physicist and former chairman of Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) Anil Kakodkar; former Vice Chairman of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) Dr R Bhattacharya; former ISRO scientist Rajmal Jain; and Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD) director Lalit Nanda.
From the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS), the list has at least four former diplomats: Shivshankar Menon, National Security Adviser (NSA) to then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh; Latha Reddy who was responsible for cybersecurity issues as the Deputy NSA under Menon; Leela Ponappa who served as the deputy NSA in the UPA-I government, and Arvind Gupta who served as the Deputy NSA during 2014-2017 and is currently the director of Vivekananda International Foundation.
Among the top sleuths on the list are former RAW chief VikramSood; former IB additional director Gurbachan Singh and former deputy director general of Central Economic Intelligence Bureau Kailash Sethi.
A number of former Defence personnel on the list are those who joined politics and think tanks, or assumed public offices after retirement. Among them: Former Navy Chief Admiral Devendra Kumar Joshi, who stepped down taking moral responsibility for repeated accidents of naval vessels and submarines in 2014 and was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands in 2017; Air Marshal Ajit Shankarrao Bhonsle, member, Union Public Service Commission (UPSC); former Army vice chief Lieutenant General Sarath Chand who joined the BJP a year after his retirement in 2018; former Navy chief Admiral L Ramdas who served as the “internal lokpal” of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP); former Army chief General NC Vij and Lt General Harcharanjit Singh Panag, who joined the Aam Aadmi Party in 2014 after retiring from the Armed Forces Tribunal.
Former director generals of the Indo- Tibetan Border Police and the Indian Coast Guard, are being monitored along with officials in the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS); the Central Economic Intelligence Bureau (CEIB); Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), the Intelligence Bureau (IB), and the National Security Guard (NSG).
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