Operation Black Stiletto, My Years in Intelligence

Operation Black Stiletto, My Years in Intelligence, a new book authored by Dilip Mitra, former Director General of Police (DGP) of Indian West Bengal State Police Force (IWBSPF) Cadre is sending out Seismic vibrations across the reading world. Not only in the Indian nation, but also beyond the political boundaries of India.

In what Mitra describes as an “episodic narrative,” the former DGP describes, in riveting mastery over the language, his on-the-field, hands-on experiences while he was entrusted with, among several other sensitive assignments, the Anti-Terrorist Wing of the Intelligence Branch of West Bengal. Mitra served for near to a decade in Intelligence between 2001 and 2008.

He was Deputy Inspector General (DIG), Special Inspector General (SIG), Inspector General (IG) and Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) in the Intelligence Branch. Dilip Mitra, a direct IPS Officer of the 1976 Batch, retired from Service after thirty-eight and a half years of unblemished service, with an enviable reputation for integrity and efficiency. He retired as Director General of Police, a rank he held for over four years. He was awarded the Indian Police Medal for Meritorious Service by the President of India.

Operation Black Stiletto Book

Operation Black Stiletto My Years in Intelligence
Operation Black Stiletto My Years in Intelligence book cover.

In this 45-chapter, 400-pages book, Mitra details several mind numbing happenings, each one a hitherto untold story, of Intelligence Operations executed by IWBSPF’s Intelligence Branch (IB).

Three specific assassination plots aimed at former West Bengal Chief Minister (CM) Buddhadev Bhattacharya and one more such where Bhattacharya would be collateral damage, were unearthed and effectively neutralized by Mitra and his team. Mitra describes in detail how these plots were detected and how they were foiled. Mitra also mentions two other assassination conspiracies; one each where former Indian Prime Minister (PM) late Atal Behari Vajpayee and then Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Lal Krishna Advani were the planned targets during their respective visits to West Bengal. These also, were uncovered and neutralized by the intelligence team led by Mitra.

A failed attempt at killing former Minister George Fernandes, while on a visit to the western part of Indian State of Gujarat and a plan to murder him in the course of a trip by the Union Minister to Berhampore, Murshidabad district of West Bengal State also finds a mention in the book.

Land Acquisition

Nandigram, a small town in the district of East Midnapore of West Bengal State was in ferment as protests against a land acquisition plan by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), that is, CPI-M led government to set up an industrial zone by an Indonesia based industrial group escalated rapidly. A satanic conspiracy hatched by a Haldia based CPI-M Satrap and an ambitious, amoral Intelligence Officer led to the fabrication of an “Intelligence assessment,” which document was very effectively used to compel an unwilling and hesitant Buddhadev Bhattacharya to order a police action to quell the anti-land acquisition movement.

The CPI-M controlled police resorted to a savage, murderous police firing on unarmed villagers; children, women and old men, which left several dead and many unexplained disappearances. Informed Sources say the police firing continued for around one hour.

Media reports claimed that over two hundred unarmed protesting villagers died in the firing and sources claimed that several bodies were rapidly disposed of without a trace.Mitra terms the horrific police firing in Nandigram as a ‘massacre’ and ‘genocide,’ and says that it was West Bengal State’s Jalianwala Bagh and Vietnam’s Mai Lai combined.

American Centre in Kolkata

The attack on the American Centre in Kolkata, known as – Calcutta (the capital of the West Bengal State), which left five policemen dead and twenty others injured, comes in for close scrutiny in Mitra’s book.

Mitra states that an Intelligence warning issued to Calcutta Police was not taken seriously and this led to major security lapses on the part of Calcutta Police. Mitra analyses in great depth the attack, virtually accounting for almost every bullet fired by Aftab Ansari and his gang of killers. Mitra, who interrogated Aftab Ansari over several days reveals a considerable amount of the information gleaned from Ansari, but is reticent about certain other specific details. However, Mitra pulls no punches when he avers that the then-leadership of Calcutta Police was found seriously wanting by treating the Intelligence warning with a casual and lackadaisical approach.

About the attack itself, Mitra raises serious questions about the complete and total lack of any response on the part of the policemen guarding the Centre. He wonders whether the weapons with the policemen were functional and much more important, about the reliability of the ammunition issued to the police. In the chapter on the American Centre attack, Mitra makes an implication loaded reference to Shaw’s Bluntschli and Sergius.

Terror in India

Operation Black Stiletto covers several other aspects. The terror scenario in India, the infiltration of hostile Intelligence operatives, the embedding of ‘sleeper cells,’ terror strikes across India, the problem of illegal immigration into the country and the overall security environment in India. Mitra discusses in depth, the changing scenario in post Mujibur Rahaman Bangladesh, the anti India profile of the Director General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI), Bangladesh in the pre Sheikh Hasina years, the Operation by the Bhutan Army against Indian insurgentand separatist groups, the infamous Chittagong Arms drop, the Kamatapur Liberation Organisation (KLO) movement, the plot to blow up the B. C. Roy Cub House at Eden Gardens, Kolkata, during an international cricket match, Bangla Bhai,’ the Mymensingh Terror, and several other disturbing incidents and developments, all with serious and grave National Security implications.

Militant Unionism

In his book, Mitra laments the serious infrastructural damage caused by the induction of militant Unionism, the active encouragement to blatant indiscipline and a convenient blind eye towards corruption in the police by the CPI-M government and the corrosive effects on the police and the Intelligence apparatus by a section of politically patronized senior police officers who had individual axes to grind and were totally indifferent to morale, efficiency or ethical conduct.

Operation Black Stiletto

The major fault-lines engineered within the police in West Bengal during the 34-years, since 1977, of CPI-M rule are starkly, prominently and vividly etched in the book. DGP Dilip Mitra’s book, Operation Black Stiletto, My Years in Intelligence, is a gripping, seriously thought provoking, mesmerizing read. If it is also disturbing, it is not entirely the author’s fault.

As told to Shib Shankar Chatterjee, Journalist based in Northeast India/ Book Review. AuthorDilip Mitra can be reached[email protected]

Shib Shankar Chatterjee
Shib Shankar Chatterjee is a former BBC, The Times of India, Hindustan Times, The Statesman & The Telegraph Contributor-cum-Correspondent from Northeast India, who specializes in investigations of important issues affecting the people of South Asia, specially, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan & Myanmar.