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RTI: MEA refuses info on Cabinet mole

June 01, 2009 13:17 IST

It may sound ironical, but the information declassified by the United States and put in public domain is still tagged as confidential by Ministry of External Affairs as is evident in a case pertaining to the mole in Indira Gandhi's cabinet in 1972.

After the directions of Central Information Commission (CIC) to provide information in the case, the MEA has accepted that records of discussions of meetings between the then Minister of External Affairs Swaran Singh and US Secretary William Rogers on October 5, 1972 were available but refused to disclose them claiming confidentiality.

The information was sought by Anuj Dhar, author of the book "CIA's Eye on South Asia" which carries details of the case, under the RTI Act. But it was rejected by the ministry saying it does not take into cognizance reports of foreign governments, newspapers and books as those are unsubstantiated.

"While ministry is claiming confidentiality clause, the US government has declassified memorandum of conversation between Singh and Rogers titled "Indian Allegations Regarding CIA Activities", Dhar told PTI. The spy case created furore after it came to light that a senior Indian minister was allegedly leaking crucial information on cabinet meetings to CIA.
If the ministry had the information why did it refuse earlier, Dhar asked.

"This answer could have been given as reply to my application. Why did they need instructions from CIC to do the same," he said.

He said the US government had declassified memorandum of conversation between Singh and Rogers on the issue of Indian allegations regarding CIA activities in the country.

The declassified document provided by Dhar has summary of discussions between the two leaders where Rogers criticised the Indian government for making public statements about the activities of CIA in India.

In his RTI application, Dhar sought "photocopies of records, if any relating to the accusations made by journalist Semour Hersh in 1983 in his book 'The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House'.

He argued before the commission that the information was of great historical importance. "There are number of instances where the government did take serious note of 'preposterous' stories published in foreign journals," he said.

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