The NTRO was set up in the summer of 2003. A year earlier, a Group of Ministers had handpicked RAW special secretary R.S. Bedi to set up the new intelligence outfit. The organisation was formally notified in July 2003.
In 2011 the comptroller and auditor general has unearthed a Rs 450-crore scam involving the purchase of Israeli unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) by the Hyderabad-based National Technical Research Organisation, a technical arm of the external intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing.
The then national security adviser NSA M K Narayanan, who is now the West Bengal governor, had tried to scuttle the inquiry the CAG wanted to carry out in December 2009 The CAG, however, felt the tip-off was too serious to be ignored and hence approached the prime minister who overruled Narayanan’s objections and allowed the CAG sleuths to get cracking in January last year. NTRO chairman KVSS Prasada Rao, a scientist who retired last October, and its current adviser M S Vijayaraghavan, have been indicted in the CAG report. Source CAG nails RAW’s wing in Rs 450-cr UAV purchase scam
KVSS Prasada Rao and M S Vijayraghavan
In May 2008, Mittal, as head of NTRO’s Centre for Communications Applications (CCA) wrote to the then NTRO chairman K V S S Prasad Rao claiming that the use of satellite communication (SATCOM) equipment on board unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) was “never a part of the original request for proposal (RFP) or tender” and “hence no technical evaluation was carried out” at any stage by his division.
Although the SATCOM equipment were to be procured from two Israeli companies, Israeli Aerospace Industry (IAI) and ELTA, visits by CCA officers to these firms in Israel yielded little. “In all meetings (at least four times in Tel Aviv) CCA has been requesting IAA/ELTA to give details of the antenna and other systems associated with SATCOM onboard the UAV. Despite our concerted efforts and repeated demands, IAI/ELTA have REFUSED TO PART with necessary information ,” documents in possession of Deccan Herald say.
Alarmingly, the trials of the SATCOM for UAVs, instead of being carried out in India were undertaken in Australia despite strong objections on the ground that the tests should be carried out in Indian conditions. The main reason why trials (which were to be witnessed by representatives of the Army, Air Force and the Navy) in Australia were not considered feasible was the IAI/ELTA had provided INCOMPLETE INFORMATION about the antenna proposed for SATCOM onboard UAVs. Besides, it was found that the antenna was “suboptimal” and “did not meet the requisite standard of radiation”, and that power amplifiers required modifications “to be able to meet digital modulation requirements.”
It was after Mittal was served a memo, by the then NTRO adviser (in the rank of additional secretary) M S Vijayaraghavan for objecting to the SATCOM equipment deal that he quit the NTRO and blew the whistle on the goings-on in the country’s communications intelligence organisation.
Subsequent internal inquiries and special audits by the CAG in January 2010 (the NTRO was outside the purview of any government audit when it was formed) led to the chargesheeting of seven officers. Source Deccan Herald
Most media treated all this as a case of bribery to win a contract which it certainly was But there could be more to the whole story
Israel as a nation has a history of selling spy equipment which has backdoor traps to allow Israel to collect sensitive data
Israel was also indirectly involved in the notorious AT&T spy room 641A incident See Wikipedia The NSA supposedly used a Narus STA600 for datamining/spying Naurus is a US based company started by two mysterious Israelis Ori Cohen and Stas Khirman
Coming back to NTRO the refusal of the Israelis to provide information on the antennae used to communicate with SATCOMs (Satellite Communication) should have been a deal breaker in a spy equipment deal It did not because some officials were probably bribed
UAVs and Satcom equipment aren’t the only Israeli materials bought from Israel by NTRO
Every day, at a secret facility of the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) near Kala Ghoda in south Mumbai, a team of 18 operators sits peering through massive amounts of data coming in through undersea cables from across continents into an international gateway facility several kilometers away in Malad. The cables carry voice and internet data from Europe to Asia and vice versa
Mumbai (Kala Ghoda) eves dropping facilities are now available in Delhi Calcutta Bangalore and at N K Narayan’s insistence in Hyderabad and Lucknow “We chose to duplicate them in Hyderabad and Lucknow, which have a large Muslim population; Bangalore, since it has a large foreign presence; Delhi and Calcutta since these are the other major cities. The Lucknow and Hyderabad facilities came up on M.K. Narayanan’s suggestion,” a senior intelligence official told Outlook.
The most intrusive of these systems are the off-the-air GSM/CDMA monitoring devices procured by various central and state intelligence organizations across the country. Sources estimate 90 such systems to have been bought so far , enabling intelligence agents to track, hear and record cellphone conversations at will without even approaching the telecom companies.
The surveillance raj has prompted several companies specialising in monitoring and data mining to enter the Indian market. “Israeli, Ukrainian and Russian companies offer the best systems . WE HAVE PURCHASED SEVERAL SYSTEMS FROM ISRAELI COMPANIES COMVERSE AND VERINT,” says an intelligence official. A Bangalore-based firm has also played a major role along with PSU Bharat Electronics Ltd in developing these systems,” says a source. But since NTRO is not authorised to do this monitoring, it works under the cover of the Intelligence Bureau. Source Outlook A Fox on a Fishing Expedition
Its not clear how many Israeli systems are in operation in India or which agency uses them for what purpose
Here are some links detailing the manner Israel spies on other nations (mainly US ) using backdoor technology in Comverse and Verint software
WITH SUCH A HISTORY OF BACKDOOR SIGNIT SPYING WHY DOES INDIA STILL USE ISRAELI SPYING SOFTWARE?