Monday, January 31, 2011

Ramifications of the Spectrum Scam on National Security

Press Statement of

General Secretary - AIADMK
Former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu,

Leader of the Opposition - Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly

During the last couple of months, the 2-G Spectrum Scam has hogged the media limelight. However, everybody has been more fascinated by the number of zeroes in 1,80,000 Crores, so much so that several of the more critical issues have gone unnoticed. It has been a classic case of missing the woods because of the trees!

The true ramifications of the Spectrum Scam are alarming.

They reach out far beyond the Rs 1,80,000 Crore rupees loss to the Nation. They actually impinge upon the Nation’s security in a big way and should be a cause for concern for every right-thinking, patriotic Indian. And looking beyond the case of financial irregularity, the perpetrators of this Himalayan scam and their backers should stand trial for treason.

A close look at just one of the companies that was given
a 2-G Spectrum licence at a ridiculously low rate gives frightening insights into a conspiracy by global forces inimical to the interests of the Indian Republic and reveals how the nation’s political leadership capitulated and fell into their honey trap motivated by the lure of lucre.

Let us take the instance of just one of the licence holding companies -- Swan Telecom.

Initially promoted by Reliance Communications and a rather nebulous entity called Tiger Traders Pvt Ltd, it later changed hands when RCom’s role became untenable as the new telecom policy did not permit one player to handle both CDMA and GSM services. In came Dynamix Balwa Infrastructure Pvt Ltd, a Mumbai-based real estate firm and Delphi Investments Pvt Ltd, a Mauritius-based investment company. Thereafter, Swan Telecom, thanks to the then Union Telecom Minister A Raja’s skullduggery, picked up licences to operate mobile services in 13 of the 22 telecom districts of India at Rs 1,537 Crore rupees.

Within months of getting the licence – a mere sheet of paper – and before any tangible steps had been taken to roll out operations, Swan Telecom sold 45.37% of its stakes to the UAE-based telecom company, Etisalat for Rs 4,500 Crores. It was renamed Etisalat DB (Dynamix Balwa). 16% stakes were sold to the Chinese telecom giant, Huawei Technologies. Additionally, 5.27% (valued at Rs 380 Crores) of shares were handed over to Genex Exim Ventures Pvt Ltd, a Chennai-based letterpad company registered just 3 months earlier with a capital of Rs 1 lakh.

The real estate circles of Mumbai regard Shahid Balwa, one of the major share holders of Etisalat DB, as a front-man for the underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, the man behind the Mumbai blasts – a proclaimed offender and one widely held to be the most wanted terrorist in the world after Osama bin Laden! It was this suspected link that forced the Union Home Ministry to put an unusual rider that the main Indian promoter of Swan Telecom should not be on the board of directors of the company. Home Ministry sources said it suspected that one of the directors of the Dynamix Balwa Group was also a director of a Dawood Ibrahim firm. Interestingly, Kapil Sibal, the present Union Telecom Minister, as a lawyer, has also appeared in several cases on behalf of Dawood Ibrahim and his relatives. His brief as Telecom Minister therefore represents a clear conflict of interest.

The Etisalat group holds controlling stakes in Pakistan Telecommunications Corporation Ltd (PTCL), a joint venture of the Government of Pakistan and Etisalat.

Both Etisalat UAE and PTCL have common Board members, many of whom are on the Board of the Indian company, Etisalat DB as well. How safe would be India’s telecommunication Spectrum in the hands of Etisalat? What is the guarantee that it would not be misused by a country like Pakistan, with whom India has fought two major wars since Independence, which is still carrying on a proxy war against India by encouraging cross-border terrorism and whose hatred for India is well known?

Huawei Technologies, the Chinese Telecom major, which now owns 16 percent of the erstwhile Swan Telecom, is a company founded and managed by Ren Zhengfei, a retired officer of the People’s Liberation Army of China, the army that fought the 1962 war against India and which is still masterminding intrusions into several border States of India.

The Indian Home Ministry had sought additional security-linked information, asking Etisalat whether it had mounted surveillance software on Blackberry services in the UAE last year, whether it had operations in Pakistan and Afghanistan and whether it had a technical tie-up with Chinese telecom equipment maker Huawei. The Ministry had also expressed concern that Huawei has the capability to remotely manipulate the equipment it supplies to clients.

Genex Exim, the company that was started with a paid up capital of Rs 1 lakh and had Rs 380 Crores of equity allotted in Swan within 3 months, belongs to the ETA group which is very close to the Karunanidhi family right from the 1970s. It is through this group that the Karunanidhi family’s illicit funds are routed to various tax havens abroad.

After the 2-G scam hit media headlines, a panic-stricken Genex Exim relinquished its 5.37% stake at par (Rs 380 Crores) to Etisalat! This clearly gives room for the question as to why did it obtain stakes in the Telecom venture in the first place? And having done it, why did it quit, without making any profit and even before the venture had rolled out?

In short, Swan Telecom, one of the beneficiaries of Andimuthu Raja’s largesse at the cost of the Indian Nation, has simultaneously opened up India’s flanks to security threats from Pakistan, China and mafia don Dawood Ibrahim – all to satisfy the greed for money of the Karunanidhi family! The question now is no longer just one of causing a loss of Rs 1,80,000 Crores to India. It is a question of the security, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Indian Nation. What is strange is that though the Union Home Ministry is aware of most of these issues and has even raised objections at various stages, the Telecom Ministry under Raja had cleared all the deals! The Home Ministry maintained a stoic silence thereafter. Why? And on whose orders?

Kapil Sibal, instead of wasting time on verbal shenanigans, should immediately cancel all the 2-G licences illegitimately issued under a patently fraudulent deal. Telecommunication Spectrum is a precious national resource. It is something which should never fall into the hands of inimical powers as this could seriously undermine India’s security. The deafening silence and total inaction of the Union Government on these vital issues raises serious questions of the patriotic credentials of some of our national-level leaders.


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