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Raid guide to sell books

New Delhi, Sept. 21: If a book that has sold 3,000 copies becomes a runaway bestseller overnight, the credit should go to the cabinet secretariat and the CBI.

The investigative agency today mounted raids on a former RAW officer and retired major general on a complaint that his book on the external spy agency has leaked “official secrets”.

India’s External Intelligence: Secrets of RAW, written by Major General (retd) V.K. Singh, had hit the stands three months ago and had found 3,000 buyers so far, according to the publisher.

But the high-voltage — and free — publicity that the CBI action has ensured is certain to stoke the curiosity of many people who probably never knew till now such a book existed.

The CBI raided the officer’s Gurgaon home this afternoon on the complaint by the secretariat that he had “wrongfully communicated” information under the Official Secrets Act.

A case was filed by the CBI against the 63-year-old officer, deputed to the external intelligence agency from 2000 to 2004. Singh was, however, not posted with RAW’s intelligence wing. He was a signals regiment officer in the army who rose to head the agency’s technical cell in 2004.

Singh tonight claimed he had spilled no “official secrets” but had merely held up a mirror to alleged corruption in RAW. “There’s nothing wrong or illegal that I have done and no secrets were leaked… I just can’t believe this move which has come so late after the publishing of my book,” he told PTI.

A section in the book that suggests government lapses helped RAW official Rabinder Singh flee the country could have touched a raw nerve in the secretariat, the public face of the intelligence wing.

His flight, possibly to the US after being accused of spying, is one of the most shameful incidents in India’s espionage history.

True to that record, the CBI squad first knocked on the doors of another V.K. Singh, also a former RAW official, in east Delhi at dawn but had to return red-faced after being told of the gaffe.

The book makes three points. One, it was wrong of the Vajpayee regime to leak the taped conversation between Pervez Musharraf and a key aide during the Kargil war.

Two, the agency compromised on technical apparatus for VVIP security. Three, there is little accountability in the agency. Its personnel use non-public funds (that are not audited) for personal gain.

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