Ban on books, TV shows by ex govt officials in sensitive depts

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New Delhi, Jun 24 (UNI) Now writing books and appearing as guest experts on TV shows will become dificult for former government officials who have served a stint in sensitive security agencies of the country.

In what is being seen as fallout of a book by former R &AW Official V K Singh, the Centre has issued directives banning publication of books by former officials associated with departments exempted from the provisions of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

The directives, issued recently, prohibit officials either working or on deputation to sensitive departments like Intelligence Bureau (IB), Research and Anlysis Wingh (R&AW), Aviation Research Centre (ARC), Special Frontier Force (SFF), National Security Guard (NSG), Special Protection Group (SPG), National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) and several Central Para Military Forces, including Assam Rifles (AR) from writing, publishing, communicating in any form on any issues relating to the functioning of their department.

Officials who retire from such organisation or revert to their parent organisation after end of their deputation will now have to take an undertaking to this effect.

If the officials are found flouting the undertaking, it would be considered as gross misconduct and he or she will be liable to be tried for breach of service rules.

The government will also be free to impose monetory deductions in pensions and even stop pensionary benefits.

The government officials, however, termed the directives as ''vague'' in nature.

This would mean that no official can write books based on his or her experience in office and even give an interview to news chanels on issues pertaining to his former organisation.

''It will not effect officials who have retired before the orders were issued ...at least I have so far not been approached to fill the bond. And if I am asked, I will move the court,'' former Intelligence Bureau Joint Director M K Dhar told UNI here today.

Mr Dhar has wrtiiten several books and articles on espionage and issues of national security.

He claimed the directives were in a bad taste. ''In a world where the former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director (George Tenet) has written a book on Afghan and Iraq Wars, it would be unwise to stop ex officials from writing their accounts.

The Central Bureau of Investigation had last year booked former Research and Analysis Wing joint secretary Maj Gen V K Singh under the Official Secrets Act for allegedly disclosing in his book certain secret information he had dealt with during his tenure in R&AW.

Mr Singh had irked some quarters in the government with his book 'India's External Intelligence: Secrets of RAW.' The book spoke about alleged political interference and corruption in the intelligence agency, including claims about the purchase of sub-standard telecom equipment meant for VVIP security.

The book claimed there were severe lapses on part of the government that facilitated the escape of senior RAW official Rabinder Singh, who is believed to have fled to the US.

It also questioned the wisdom of the previous NDA government in releasing to then Pakistan Premier Nawaz Sharif a taped conversation between Gen Pervez Musharraf and a senior army official, Gen Mohammed Aziz, during the Kargil conflict.

UNI NAB LPB VC1350

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