Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Indian Political Intelligence Office

The Indian Political Intelligence Office was an Intelligence organisation initially established in England in 1909 in response to the dissemination of anarchist and revolutionary elements of Indian nationalism to different countries in Europe after the liquidation of India House (where it was based between 1905 and 1910) in London in 1909.
It formally came to be called the Indian Political intelligence from 1921.

By the time World War I broke out the IPIO, headed by John Wallinger, had been established in mainland Europe. In scale, this office was larger than those operated by the British War Office, approaching the size of the European intelligence network of the Secret Service Bureau. This network already had agents in Switzerland against possible German intrigues. After the outbreak of the war, Wallinger, under the cover of an officer of the British General Head Quarters, proceeded to France where he operated out of Paris, working with the French Political Police, the Sûreté.

The MI5(g), or the MI5 G section, was a branch of the MI5 that was formed during World War I to address the war time espionage operation by the Indian revolutionary movement in Europe. The department arose by renaming the MO5(g), which was renamed MI5(g) in 1916. The MI5 itself, working under Vernon Kell, had a number of India experts at the beginning of the war. In September 1916, a special section, the MI5(d), section was formed to operate counter-espionage networks throughout the British empire. Another subsection, the MI5(b), was formed in January 1917 to deal specifically with Indians and "other oriental races". The MI5(g) had 27 officers in its staff, eight of whom had served in India before the war. Among them were ex-Indian civil servants including Robert Nathan and H.L. Stephenson. The main emphasis of this counter-espionage network was to prevent the subversion of Indian troops in the European theatre. The organisation, especially under Nathan, worked closely with the Special Branch of the Scotland Yard in Britain and with the Indian Political Intelligence Office headed by John Wallinger, which operated a network of spies in neutral Switzerland which a number of the Indian revolutionaries and members of the Berlin Committee used as a base.

MI5(g)'s work at the time identified the plans by Ghadar Party and the Berlin Committee to assassinate Lord Kitchener in 1915 through an associate of Har Dayal, Gobind Behari Lal. It was also responsible at this time, along with Basil Thomson, for the capture of Harish Chandra (who was associated with the Berlin committee) and turning him into a double agent. Through Harish Chandra was also identified plans for obtaining information of Ghadarite intrigues in Japan and China. Among other works, Nathan was responsible for the plans made by British intelligence in late 1915 to assassinate Virendranath Chattopadhyaya through an agent by the name of Donald Gullick.

Learn more about British counterespionage over its Indian Raj and troops;



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