Indian Political Intelligence (IPI) Files, 1912-1950
Editor: Anthony Farrington, Former Deputy Director, Oriental & India Office Collections, British Library
Indian Political Intelligence (IPI), an organization within the India Office in London, monitored activities aimed at undermining the British government of India. Its files, the oldest being locked away for almost a century, were declassified in 1997. They form a unique primary source for the study of revolutionary movements in the British colonial period during an especially volatile episode in Indian history. This microform edition, published exclusively by IDC Publishers, is fully endorsed by the British Library.
In the early 1900s, close links were developing between growing unrest in India and the political activities of Indians domiciled in Britain. The first bombings and assassinations of British officials in India in 1905 were soon followed by the emergence of Indian revolutionary groups in London, Paris and North America. In 1908, Scotland Yard’s Special Branch received orders to undertake surveillance of Indian subversives in Britain, establishing an Indian Section in July 1909.
Indian Political Intelligence began with the deputation of Major J.A. Wallinger from the Indian Police to the India Office in London. IPI’s task was to "watch anti-British conspiracies in England and Europe, so far as they affect Indian interests". It reported to the Secretary of State for India through the India Office’s Public & Judicial Department, and to the government of India through the Intelligence Bureau of the Home Department. After 1939, the interests of IPI grew to encompass activities of German, Italian and Japanese aliens in India. Various pro-independence movements were infiltrated and monitored, among them the International Committee for India and the India League. In 1947, following the Independence of India, IPI was dissolved.
The files of IPI contain a mass of previously unavailable material on the monitoring of organizations and individuals considered a threat to British India. They include surveillance reports and intercepts from MI.5, MI.6 and Scotland Yard's Special Branch, and a large number of intelligence summaries and position papers. Although the main thrust is anti-communist, exponents of the various nationalist movements were also monitored.
IPI kept files on most of the period's best known activists and political figures – including Gandhi, as well as Subhas Chandra Bose, Jawarharlal Nehru and V.J. Patel. Their movements were recorded, their correspondence read and their publications combed through for allegedly subversive statements.
In addition, there are more than 80 separate files on Indian censorship.
Former Deputy Director, Oriental & India Office Collections, British Library