As the race for appointment of new chief of India’s external Intelligence agency — Research and Analysis Wing — begins, 1982-batch Indian Police Service officer of Jammu & Kashmir cadre K Ilango is pitching in for the coveted job. Another officer Samant Kumar Goel, a 1984-batch IPS officer of Punjab cadre, is also in the race even as the Government has kept the option of granting an extension to the current chief Anil Kumar Dhasmana open, though he is yet to make a mark in his areas of expertise on Gwadar port, Balochistan and Maldives.
Ilango, a former Station Commander of India’s mission in Colombo, Sri Lanka has earned the dubious distinction of bringing disrepute to the government when he had to be recalled at the behest of the Sri Lankan government for meddling in the 2015 Presidential polls in the island nation.
Ilango was accused by the Sri Lankan Government of backing joint candidate of the Opposition Sirisena to oust the then incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa. It was a move that did not go down well in the political establishment of Sri Lanka.
India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval had to go to Sri Lanka to defuse the crisis and subsequently, Ilango was expelled from Colombo. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi had to face embarrassment due to Ilango’s habit of interference and meddling in the Sri Lankan elections, sources said.
Given Ilango’s Lankan track record, sources said the Government could be wary of appointing him as it could have an impact on India’s neighbourhood first policy.
The smaller countries in the region could suspect routine activities of the Indian mission in their respective countries as meddling in their internal affairs which in turn can adversely hit Indian interests and bring repeated embarrassment to New Delhi, the sources said.
For his part, Goel is considered close to Punjab CM Amarinder Singh, who wants him to appoint him as the DGP of the State. Goel is harping on his role in countering the Khalistani propaganda in Europe against India to pitch in for the top slot. Recently, the Pakistan-backed Khalistani groups carried out the Referendum 2020 in the UK seeking a separate homeland for the Sikhs despite protests by Indian Government.