New Delhi (Sputnik): The Indian government on Wednesday appointed Samant Kumar Goel as the new chief of India’s external spy agency-Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). He was one of the key strategists behind the 26 February Balakot air strikes inside India’s arch-rival Pakistan.
The 1984-batch Indian Police Service officer was looking after the operations desk of India’s external intelligence agency – RAW. It means Goel was responsible for the planning and execution of the air strike carried out inside Pakistani territory.
The Indian strike came in the wake of the 14 February Pulwama terror bombing in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir that killed 40 security personnel.
"The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved the appointment of Samanta Kumar Goel, Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat as Secretary, Research and Analysis Wing for a tenure of two years", the Indian government said in an official communique.
Beside having executed several crucial projects as an officer in the spy agency, Goel also a spent large part of his career dealing with militancy in the Punjab, a state bordering Pakistan. The appointment does indicate Narendra Modi's preference for an aggressive policy while dealing with Pakistan.
Nevertheless, Goel’s name had also popped up during infighting in the country’s main investigative body- Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). He was alleged to have tried to dilute a Moin Qureshi money-laundering and corruption probe in connivance with other officials. But no evidence was ever found against him.
Goel’s appointment suggests that India’s Central Vigilance Commission didn’t find any substantial evidence against him in the Moin Qureshi money-laundering and corruption probe.
Analysts believe the Balakot strike was one of the major reasons behind the re-election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in general elections that ended in May.
On 26 February, the Indian Air Force conducted an aerial strike against alleged terrorist infrastructure purportedly operated by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed who claimed responsibility for the Pulwama terrorist attack. On 27 February, the Pakistan Air Force retaliated and claimed to have downed two Indian fighter jets. India, however, termed it a false claim while stating that the Indian Air Force’s MiG-21 Bison had shot down a F-16 jet in the dogfight.