Vishal Garg, originally from the Border Security Force, was suspended on the direction of the Ministry of Home Affairs this week.
NEW DELHI: The suspension of a Superintendent of Police (SP) rank officer with the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on the charges of demanding and taking money in a case related to Manipur, Imphal that the agency is investigating, has led to questions and concerns about the presence of few “tainted” officials in the organization.
Such tainted officials, officials are worried, could impact the credibility of the NIA on a larger scale. Vishal Garg, originally from the Border Security Force (BSF), was suspended on the direction of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) this week after a preliminary enquiry found him to be involved in what has called a case of ‘extortion’ to the amount of Rs 3 crore.
This is the second time that Garg, who had joined the NIA in 2015, has been suspended from the organization.
In September 2019 he was suspended for allegedly trying to extort Rs 2 crore from an individual for not naming him in a terror funding case related to Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation of Lashkar-e-Taiba.
Along with Garg, two others involved in the case- an assistant sub-inspector (ASI) who was originally from the BSF and a fingerprint expert who belonged to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)- were repatriated to their parent organization.
Garg was later reinstated into the NIA in September 2020 after an internal inquiry conducted by a DIG level officer found no proof of his involvement.
Of the about 950 plus officials that form the NIA sources said, about one third of it or roughly 350 belong to the BSF who join the NIA under deputation.
As per sources within the MHA, with the increasing incident of BSF cadre being involved in such issues that have the potential to permanently discredit an inquiry and allow the accused to go free apart from tainting the organization, concerns were being raised on whether there was a need to “restrict” the induction of BSF cadre into the NIA.
Sources said that in the last three years, atleast five senior officials working with the NIA, who came from the BSF, have been repatriated to their home cadre.
These officials include those who were working in the rank of Deputy Inspector General (1), Superintendent of Police (1) and Deputy Superintendent of Police (3). These numbers do not include the recent incident involving Garg and also does not include officials below the rank of DSP. One such DSP against whom a complaint was received and an inquiry executed, passed away recently.
These repatriations were done after the NIA did a “discreet inquiry” on its part and decided to repatriate them back to BSF after finding them to be involved in issues of corruption An NIA spokesperson while speaking to the Sunday Guardian said that the agency has zero tolerance for corruption and it takes each and every allegation of corruption very seriously and a proper investigation and inquiry is conducted in each such allegation as per the laid down laws.
Officials claimed that unlike in the case of other para-military forces from which the NIA recruits, it is relatively much easier for a BSF personnel trying to join the NIA to get a No-Objection Certificate (NoC) from his senior officers which explains the presence of about one third of NIA being composed of personnel from the BSF.
The BSF was given birth to guard the Indian borders, prevent unauthorised entry and hence by training they are not acclimatized to do criminal investigation or interact with ‘common people’.
This ‘easy-release’ culture that the BSF employs when it comes to relieving its officials for NIA and other security agencies is likely to come under scanner following the past incidents involving the few tainted BSF officials.
Intelligence officials said these incidents, however sporadic, should not be allowed to happen as the NIA is India’s anti-terror organization that represents the country at global forums and incidents of its officials using their position and identity card for illegal means can deeply scar the perception of the organization. These incidents can also be used to question its investigation and charge-sheet being questioned in the court of law.