With so much being spoken about the Delhi Police busting a major spy ring, it will be interesting to re-visit the Rabinder Singh case who made a sensational exit from the country despite being watched 24/7.
It was the year 2004, Rabinder Singh, a joint secretary at the Research and Analysis Wing disappeared from New Delhi despite being under the radar 24/7.
He is said to have made a safe get away and it was discovered that he had flown into the United States of America under the protection of the CIA, the agency he was actually working for.
Singh's story is detailed extremely well in a fictional account provided by former R&AW officer Amar Bhushan in a thriller of a book called Escape to Nowhere. Spy games are played by every intelligence agency across the world. Some get caught, some do not but in the case of Singh, he managed to slip out with the help of the CIA.
Bhushan says that the option to arrest him (Singh) was there from day one. It is not something that is coming out of the blue.
Amar Bhushan who served as a special secretary in the cabinet secretariat before his retirement in the year 2005 is referred to as Jeevnathan in the book. He tells the story about how Jeevnathan is informed by a whistle-blower that the behaviour of Ravi Mohan (Rabinder Singh) was suspicious.
He also states about the manner in which a source in the agency in Kathmandu confirmed the escape of this man with the help of the CIA station chief over there.
Everyone plays spy games
Bhushan says that this is nothing new as we too do the same thing with the other agencies. Why are our agents stationed all over the world? It is a part of the game and each one uses such things for their benefit. One should not get startled with these facts and remember if we are not doing the same then it is our failure.
I found it important that I bring all this to the limelight. I had to go through a lot of pain in producing this account. I ensured that the names were not revealed and this was done for the safety of those officers who were part of it.
There are many such secrets and it remains in the library. No one will ever know that things happened. People should know that it should not be done.
We call it loosely as honesty of thieves. We know that and we too do it all the time. Sometimes people get away sometimes they get caught. There is no harm that has been caused to the relations. We know the area of operation and there are areas in which we cooperate with other agencies. That is where I mention in the book that the fallacy should be broken.
If we are improving our relations with a country that does not mean we stop all operations. Both should work in their own way.
There is a difference between diplomacy and intelligence. If we are not allowed to do this taking into consideration relations, then there will be a time when there is nothing to work on. Diplomatic relations are the job of the MEA.
Where is Rabinder Singh?
Bhushan says that Singh should be termed as a traitor. In our view he was an espionage agent. I am not aware of where he is now. ( Many do suspect that he could be in Canada)
Some information has gone no doubt about that. He handled a very low profile charge, but he did keep talking to officers and tried to find out many things. He was never considered to be a bright officer.