‘ISI hand’ had rescued many governments in India at times of crises. There used to be a common first reaction – ISI hand, foreign hand – from political heads about any violent incident. The statement, whether true or not, serves an immediate purpose of disillusioning the public about perpetrators of the crime. The local government is saved from embarrassment, by passing the buck to the Central government or a neighbouring country. However, a lot of such claims about ISI hand or foreign hand had later proved to be hollow statements. Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma’s statement blaming a Garo militant outfit of being hand in glove with the ISI for killing migrant labourers is also seen as a hurried remark. Opposition parties, thinking Sangma had no evidence to prove his claim, had even demanded an NIA probe into the so-called between the ISI and the breakaway faction of the Achik National Volunteer Council (ANVC-B).

True or not, the controversy over the ISI hand – after the BSF’s claim that Meghalaya’s militant groups do not have links with the Pakistan’s spy agency – has exposed the futility having so many intelligence agencies. While the chief minister had quoted state intelligence sources to claim ISI’s link with the ANVC-B, the frontier force asserted that the agency had no role in activities of the rebel outfits of Meghalaya especially those in Garo Hills. Though it appears to be a mere difference between two sets of intelligence agencies, the consequences of such a trend could be dangerous. It is certain that one of the two groups is wrong on the matter. Informers of the intelligence agencies could have supplied the wrong information. There may be another agenda behind supplying the wrong information.

Such wrong information, especially those from government agencies, helps the government to divert the issue. The issue of catching and punishing the culprit, who perpetrates any violence, take a backseat while more talks could be seen about “who’s behind”. It could be ISI or anybody. But the elected government’s main role is to find out the person or the group, before pointing towards “ISI hand”. The culprits must be brought to book. The local government’s responsibility should not end at telling the people about ISI or foreign hand. The government’s primary job is to provide security to the people, who pay for feeding the nation’s combat and intelligence forces.

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on August 21, 2014)