Informers are either criminals or sympathisers of criminals. They are people with grudges or are forced to give tip-offs by investigating agencies. You have to give them good money if you want them to stay with you. The officer must have a trained eye to detect a fake informer.
If the information is incorrect, the informer will stay underground for some time, but an intelligence officer cannot strike him off his list. Chances are if you keep after them, they will deliver. No informer will give 100 per cent correct information. They may deliberately send an officer on a wrong track. I threaten them with dire consequences if they give wrong information. I beat them up if they send me on a wild goose chase. They have to fear you. I make it my business to know every little detail about them, particularly their wrongdoings. I use it to make them deliver.
Senior officers tell us there is a lot of difference between intelligence gathering in the old days and now. The world is now better connected via the net. Previously, there was more concentration on gangs. Now, the underworld has broken up and are more into drugs and arms deals. Many thugs are fascinated with terrorist activities. Developing a network to gather intelligence is tough since informers get more money to operate as ‘double agents’.
There is a lot of interference from ministers, not directly, but through the Home Minister. When we are asked to go slow in an investigation, we know we’re not supposed to follow it to the end. Even in high profile cases, interference comes after the media stops taking interest.
Sometimes, officers who don’t get good tip-offs pay informers to mislead colleagues who have a better field record. Criminals will try anything to compromise a good officer. These days, they call TV channels, feed them wrong information about officers and also help them do sting operations.
(He has been part of the state intelligence group in Mumbai for about eight years now)
(As told to Haima Deshpande)