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44 years post-Emergency: Indira Gandhi betrayed by American mole

Indira Gandhi

25th June 1975 is remembered as one of the darkest day of the Indian Democracy. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared the state of ‘Emergency’ across the country on this day which continued for a period of 19 months from 25th June 1975 to 21st March 1977. Then President Fakruddin Ali Ahmed on the advice of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had issued Emergency under article 352 of the Indian Constitution citing internal disturbance.

But the entire incident of Emergency was not limited to the Indian mainland but also had an international angle to it.

Indira Gandhi visits the army camp at Leh (June 22, 1980) Photo: Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust

 

CIA mole inside Indira Gandhi’s Cabinet

Her glory was not limited to 62 crores of people in her motherland, it widened across oceans to the United States.

In the days leading up to the 1975 Emergency, the US Intelligence had little or no information of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s intentions, according to declassified documents posted on the Central Intelligence Agency’s online database.

India’s nuclear program was closely monitored, but daily events of the country weren’t paid much heed.

In June 1975, Allahabad High Court had convicted Gandhi for campaign violations. The CIA predicted this would lead to a resignation.

However, it was a known fact that Indira Gandhi kept her ministers at arm’s length. She could not trust anyone to take over her job even temporarily, on a fear that “the highly ambitious minister” would be reluctant to hand it back.

According to cables released by WikiLeaks in 2013, the CIA has repeatedly referred to a “household source” or a “sources close to the PM’s household”. The CIA dispatches do not corroborate this source, but information after the declaration of Emergency was more specific, suggesting improved intelligence gathering in New Delhi.

The extent of information supplied to the intelligence agency is not yet clear.

A day after the Emergency was declared, the “source” told the key figures behind her move were son Sanjay Gandhi and her secretary, R K Dhawan. “This is confirmed by a source close to the PM’s household. Both are non-ideological, extremely authoritarian in their general approach, and focused only on keeping Mrs. Gandhi in power,” the dispatch read.

The Embassy had asked a few Congress MPs regarding their views on the duration of the Emergency. “They differ on the timing, some suggesting that Emergency will last no more than two-three months, others six months as the maximum. Similarly, some think the elections will be held on schedule at the end of this year, others that they may possibly be postponed till late in 1976 to give the PM an opportunity to show real progress in social/economic reforms,” cable said.

 

Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and US President Richard Nixon, talking at the White House, Washington, DC, USA on November 9, 1971. Photo: rediff.com

Who was the mole?

According to a report in patheos.com, they have quoted Anuj Dhar, an author of the book called “India’s Biggest Cover-up”.

“The 1971 case relates to an alleged mole in Indira Gandhi’s Cabinet who was reported to have leaked information on Cabinet meetings to the CIA. The leaks, it has been alleged, could have adversely impacted the India-Pakistan war”, an excerpt reads.

The author went on to claim that during the height of the Bangladesh war, whatever surpassed between Gandhi and her close aides, would reach the table of Henry Kissinger within 48 hours or less.

The author tried getting the name through an RTI but was dismissed on clauses of “confidentiality”.

“A mole did exist; he was not officially identified, and Indira Gandhi did not punish him ever”, the author wrote.

 

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