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Bosses chosen for intelligence trio

New Delhi, Nov. 19: The Intelligence Bureau, the Research and Analysis Wing and the National Technical Research Organisation — the country’s top three intelligence organisations — will get new chiefs before the year end with the Centre this week finalising their names.

The posts have a fixed tenure of two years.

Nehchal Sandhu, special director and operations expert in the Intelligence Bureau, will be its next director, sources said. The 1973 batch Bihar cadre officer is the IB’s senior-most officer. Having served in Punjab during the militancy and with long experience in handling the insurgency in Kashmir, his appointment is expected to breathe new life into the internal intelligence agency.

Sandhu, who will be the first Sikh to head the IB, will take over from incumbent Rajiv Mathur by the month end, sources said.

RAW is expected to get Sanjeev Tripathi — an RAS (RAW Allied Services) cadre officer — as its new boss. Tripathi would be the first RAW chief from the agency’s own cadre, sources said. Since its inception 43 years ago, the external intelligence agency has always had IPS officers heading it.

Tripathi takes over at a time the government is planning a massive expansion of RAW to increase intelligence collection and collation and eventually decrease dependence on foreign agencies for intelligence inputs.

The decision to expand RAW stems from lessons learnt in the past. In the David Headley case, for instance, Indian agencies were disappointed with the US for not sharing full information on his links with the Lashkar-e-Toiba and Pakistan much before the 26/11 attacks were planned.

K.C. Verma, the present RAW chief, was due to retire on December 31. However, the government granted him an extension and has decided to move him as chairman of the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) on December 1.

“Verma was moved so that there would be space for Sanjeev Tripathi,” a senior government official said.

Both the IB and RAW rely heavily on the NTRO, which was headless so far, for technical intelligence. The choice of Verma, a 1971 batch IPS officer of the Jharkhand cadre, has raised questions on why a technically qualified officer was not selected for the post.

Many officers in the race for the top spots will get left behind. Ajit Lal, Sandhu’s junior by about a year and a special director, will retire in 2012. In RAW, Avadhesh Mathur will miss out on the top job.

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