Under Intelligence Assault - The New Indian Express Reading Pakistani newspapers, one doesnâ€™t get the impression that Indian spy agencies are involved in Pakistan. Sure, there are accusations that Indiaâ€™s external intelligence, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), is supporting the Pakistani Taliban and secular Balochi rebels, but the nature of these allegations is essentially political and rhetorical. On the contrary, it appears that the Pakistani militaryâ€™s Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, has established footprints across India. Its presence is proven from a number of arrests of ISI agents across the country. If you search the websites of Indian newspapers, there is a regular stream of stories being published that indicate the ISI is active throughout the country. Looking back over the past decade, ISI agents were arrested from towns across India: Ahmedabad, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Mumbai, Delhi, Mohali, Amritsar, Chandigarh, Patiala, Jalandhar, Shimla, Aligarh, Meerut, Kanpur, Lucknow, Gorakhpur, Patna, Kolkata, Darjeeling, Agartala, Hyderabad, Bhopal, Bengaluru, Chennai, and so on. To be fair to domestic intelligence agencies, ISI modules were also routinely disrupted, as the arrests in these cities would signify. The ISI agents are of mainly two types: those engaged in gathering secret information of military nature, and those involved in recruiting and planning terror modules. Some are also involved in flooding the country with fake currency notes. In July 2013, it was also revealed that senior officers in the Lucknow passport office, who were bribed between `50,000 and `500,000 per person, issued passports to at least 50 suspected ISI agents. Sometimes, ISI spies acquired voter and ration cards. The ISIâ€™s boldest move was to recruit Madhuri Gupta, a female diplomat posted in the Indian mission in Islamabad who was brought to Delhi and prosecuted. Letâ€™s take a random sample of ISI agents arrested last year. In May, airports in Hyderabad, Bangalore, Mangalore, Chennai, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram were put on alert over terror threats. Earlier, Sri Lankan national Shakir Hussain was arrested for being part of a terror plot to bomb US and Israeli consulates in southern India. The plot was traced to a Pakistani diplomat in Colombo. In September, ISI agent Arun Selvarajan was held in Chennai and vital documents regarding the coast guards were seized. He, too, was connected to a Pakistani handler in Colombo. Selvarajan reportedly had carried out a reconnaissance of the Kalapakkam nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu. These arrests indicate the ISIâ€™s growing focus on southern India. However, the ISIâ€™s main sphere of influence seem to be the western, northern and northeastern regions where suspected agents are routinely arrested. In March 2014, Lovedeep Singh, an army clerk in Faridkot, was arrested by police over the charges of spying for the ISI and photographs of restricted areas and sketches of military installations were seized. In May, B K Sinha, an army clerk in Jaipur, was held on the charge of sharing secret information with an ISI agent in Nepal. It is troubling that a retired army officer helped to recruit Sinha. In August, police in Meerut district arrested Asif Ali for passing information about the army to ISI. Based on Aliâ€™s revelations, army jawan Suneet Kumar was arrested. Suneet was given a laptop that was connected to an ISI operative in Karachi. In this case, too, it seems a retired army official helped to recruit Suneet, who â€œhad befriended a girl on Facebook through a childhood friendâ€¦whose father had served in the armyâ€. In September, Sarda Shankar Kushwaha, an ISI operative wanted in terror-related cases, was arrested from the Nepal border in Bihar. Rattandeep Singh, who was recruited by the ISI to head the Bhindranwale Tiger Force of Khalistan, was arrested near Gorakhpur town in September. In his 2000 book Pakistanâ€™s ISI: Network of Terror in India, senior cop S K Ghosh examined the revelations of the arrested ISI agents and noted that the ISIâ€™s strategy involved the following: Use Kashmiri Muslims and cause subversion and terrorism across India, prepare an extensive ISI network and plant cadre of terrorists and spies in every part of India, trigger serial blasts in major cities, create insurgencies in parts of India where Muslim population is significant, and create newer fronts in Pakistanâ€™s proxy war against India. Speaking of the 1993 Bombay blasts, Ghosh observed these were â€œnot a Hindu-Muslim problem. It was an India-Pakistan problemâ€. The issue of Islamic terrorism in India can be entirely attributed to the ISI. Fresh revelations in the 26/11 case indicate that intelligence agencies of the US, UK and India possessed information that could have helped prevent the attack on Mumbai. In the 9/11 case, not sharing of information held by different US security agencies turned out to be the main catalyst for the attack. Both these cases illustrate that active defence is essential for homeland security. However, Indiaâ€™s celebrated pluralism and coexistence mean that Indians learn to live with all kind of malaise: we have coexisted with Naxalite terrorists for more than half a century, though it appears that due to hatred of Muslims we are more alert to the threat of Islamic terrorism. The ISIâ€™s activities across India have persisted for several decades. Before the World War I, Britain was infested by German spies. Vernon Kell, who began work in 1909 as the first head of MI5, worked with limited resources, unable to recruit an assistant for himself. â€œThe keys to Kellâ€™s pre-war counter-espionage strategy,â€ notes Christopher Andrew in his book The Defence of the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5, were â€œsecuring the co-operation of the police, using the Home Office Warrant systemâ€¦ establishing a state-of-the-art databaseâ€¦ [which are] still central to Service operations in the twenty-first century.â€ Andrew observes that Kell â€œsucceeded, with police assistance, in rounding up all the German spies of any significance, thus depriving the enemy of advance warningâ€. Most of the times, the intelligence agenciesâ€™ contribution is not recognised because of the things that do not happen as a result of their successful work. However, letâ€™s hope that the ISI activities do not become part of Indiaâ€™s celebrated pluralism. The author is director of South Asia Studies Project at the Middle East Media Research Institute, Washington DC.