VOICES ANAND NEELAKANTAN SATHYA SARAN RAVI SHANKAR ANUJA CHANDRAMOULI NEIL MCCALLUM MATA AMRITANANDAMAYI MAGAZINE BUFFET PEOPLE WELLNESS BOOKS FOOD ART & CULTURE ENTERTAINMENT NEW DELHI AUGUST 2 2020 SUNDAY PAGES 12 India’s Shadow Warriors From Kabul to Kathmandu, from London to Paris and Innsbruck, to Islamabad and Colombo, the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) ran exciting operations using money, analysis, psy-ops, wet work and the occasional honey trap. A new book by Yatish Yadav brings to light some of the daring exploits of India’s spies and spymasters. P RAW: A History of India’s Covert Operations By: Yatish Yadav Publisher: Westland Pages: 400 Price: `799 eace is an illusion because India is constantly at war in the shadows. Just as soldiers in uniform guard our borders, a different kind of highly trained and motivated soldiers crisscross the world in various guises with deceptively innocuous code names; meeting sources, activating sleeper spies and double agents, deploying honey traps, conferring with fellow spooks in cafes and safe houses, and bribing informers with clandestine funds—all to protect the nation. They are the unsung heroes of India’s formidable spy agency R&AW who unearth dark plots against the country and destroy traitors and at great personal risk. RAW: A History of India’s Covert Operations illustrates their daring exploits. During the Cold War years, Indira Gandhi had brought India firmly into the Soviet Union’s orbit and the US supported Pakistan as a anti-Communist gambit. Set in the turbulent ’70s to the ’90s, R&AW spooks toppled dictators like General Ershad in Bangladesh and Fiji’s Colonel Rabuka by organising public protests and trading loyalties of people in their inner circles respectively India had carved Bangladesh . out of East Pakistan, which America opposed vehemently; President Richard Nixon even sent the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise to the Bay of Bengal to intimidate India. After Mujibur Rahman’s assassination, the ISI and CIA moved into Bangladesh. The Hindu refugee problem was a strain on India’s economy and Ershad’s pro-ISI, proCIA stance wasn’t helping. So unexpected were the R&AW-engineered protests that Ershad was forced to resign and a neutral government came in his place. In Fiji, where local Indians were being persecuted by nationalist Rabuka, R&AW used foreign contacts in Australia, New Zealand and the UK to launch a successful operation to oust him. The mission was almost compromised when the mistress of a Fiji bureaucrat who was spying for India informed the authorities. R&AW also created immense goodwill in many countries; it helped a top Afghan politician and former warlord to escape the Taliban and even got his relative a job in Turkey R&AW spooks relentlessly bribed, cajoled and . blackmailed India’s enemies. At great danger to himself, a daring agent bought information from a mole among Khalistani terrorists who were preparing to attack Delhi, which were averted by the intel. The agency even managed to recruit the prime minister of an important Baltic nation. R&AW had support from most prime ministers, except Pakistanfriendly Morarji Desai, who had dismantled foreign operations and turned over imbedded agents to ISI. Since intelligence inputs play a significant role in shaping policy the spymasters saw firsthand politi, cal leaders in action. The book describes how Rajiv Gandhi stood in front of Deng Xiaoping like a schoolboy in front of a principal, though he was assured that he had nothing to fear from the Chinese. A chapter describes how Narasimha Rao’s taciturn “Okay” meant the mission had the go-ahead. R&AW’s main enemy continues to be Pakistan’s ISI, which has been playing a cat and mouse game for decades. It also faced a formidable enemy at home—Indian diplomats who exposed their identities abroad and bureaucrats who interfered with operational budgets. These are some of their stories. E XC LUS I V E E XC E R PTS OPERATION SRI LANKA Permanent Friends, Permanent Interests In Sri Lanka, R&AW played a double game, helping the Sri Lankan Army to destroy the LTTE while protecting Indian assets against the Tigers and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s hit men. According to a R&AW spymaster in Colombo, MEA bungled and allowed the Chinese to get a foothold in the island. Avinash Sinha arrived at Colombo Fort Café on the morning of 3 December 2005, looking forward to what he had been told was the best Sri Lankan breakfast in the city . Avinash, a R&AW operative, perhaps a few autumns younger than Kosala Ratnayake, had returned to Colombo that October after three years. He had recruited Kosala, a top functionary in the Sri Lankan government, over several wet evenings in January 2002. That was when the Sri Lankan regime had been seriously engaging with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for peace talks. Satellite Spycraft: Avinash said that the R&AW had penetrated Sri Lanka’s northern province deeply, especially districts like Jaffna, Vavuniya, Kilinochchi and Mannar. ‘Our assessment was solid and as the war loomed large over the horizon, our primary objective was to evacuate as many Tamils as possible. But that was just a foggy dream. Under tremen- dous pressure from the Tigers, the Tamil populations had decided to remain and we couldn’t do anything about it,’ said Avinash. The Indian government had taken a principled decision to support the Sri Lankan army offensive because the entire international community had been outraged by the LTTE’s string of suicide bombings. According to Avinash, between late 2007 and May 2009 when Sri Lanka declared total victory against the LTTE, the R&AW provided satellite imagery of all the Tigers’ camps in the north and east provinces to the Sri Lankan military The intelli. gence included the Tigers’ military formations as well as civilian populations so as to avoid casualties. ‘It was not LTTE alone that killed our assets,’ said Pawan Arora, a R&AW officer. ‘We later learnt that the Sri Lankan army had also been involved in hitting our informers. Just before the final and massive offensive in April 2009, some important assets were evacuated from Turn to page 2 THE INDIAN government had taken a principled decision to support the Sri Lankan army offensive because the entire international community had been outraged by the LTTE’s string of suicide bombings. According to Avinash, between late 2007 and May 2009 when Sri Lanka declared total victory against the LTTE, the R&AW provided satellite imagery of all the Tigers’ camps in the north and east provinces to the Sri Lankan military.
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