As soon as news of India getting two new intelligence heads got out on Wednesday, murmurs and whispers started in both the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Research and Analysis Wing. The mood in the two agencies - internal and external - though was somewhat different.
While officers in the Intelligence Bureau were reportedly highly motivated about working with the new boss, officers in RAW were muted in their enthusiasm. The selection of an Indian Police Service officer over a Research and Analysis Wing service officer has reportedly left many in RAW upset.
Samant Goel has been named as the new RAW secretary, bypassing his senior R Kumar of the Research Analysis Wing Service or RAS. "He is also from 1984 batch, is from allied services, and the government has once again made it clear that they want an IPS at the top and not an officer from the RAS," disclosed a senior officer in the cabinet secretariat.
Officers state that R Kumar, who is senior to Mr Goel, is in charge of the Pakistan and counter-terrorism desk. "As far as experience is concerned, R Kumar has had his postings in Bangladesh, Nepal and Switzerland and had a near-perfect track record, but he has been overlooked. It is not a right signal," said another officer.
R Kumar, a 1984-batch RAS officer, was selected by lateral induction after written tests and interview.
However, some counter this viewpoint and state that Mr Goel played a major role in countering the Khalistani propaganda in Europe against India to pitch in for the top job. He has been posted in London and Dubai.
"He is an expert in counter-terror operations and has great knowledge about Pakistan-based terror groups," said a senior officer in cabinet secretariat.
Meanwhile, Arvind Kumar is the only officer from the 1984 batch in the Intelligence Bureau, and so there's no question of him superseding anyone.
Officers in the Intelligence Bureau mostly state that Arvind Kumar has always been regarded as an anchor by the agency's senior management cadre and has weathered many storms with ease, composure and his unruffled demeanour.
"He has a sense of wit and humour in him, which endears him to all his subordinate officers. All in the IB are looking forward to working for him to face all the daily challenges that the intelligence world thrusts on them," states one of the officers in bureau.
According to him, Mr Kumar, who handles the Kashmir desk, played a crucial role in providing leads to the National Investigation Agency or NIA regarding the probe in the Pulwama terror attack. "He is very far sighted and had briefed the government on the impact of Balakot air strike," he added.
Senior officers at the Intelligence Bureau recall Mr Kumar as a person who had a network of resources. "Kumar is an old hand in the Bureau. He was posted in Delhi unit in early 2000 and then later posted in Patna State Intelligence head," stated a former Director of the Intelligence Bureau.
"His contributions in the fields of technology and security can never be told, but his vision in incubating new technology within the IB is what makes Arvind Kumar the right choice," stated a senior officer, smiling.
"Role of present Director of Intelligence Bureau in shaping policies of government has also been remarkable," added a senior bureaucrat in the ministry.
"He always kept us on toes," said another officer.
"One of the most key successes of (current Director of Intelligence Bureau) Rajiv Jain is his ability to merge the tradition and the old methods of intelligence, with the new and emerging world of Artificial Intelligence," disclosed another officer.
Both Rajiv Jain and Arvind Kumar accompanied Home Minister Amit Shah to Srinagar on Wednesday for his first visit to the state after joining the government.