The spies india left out in the cold


Several persons who returned to India from Pakistan after completing their sentence for spying have decided to approach the government for compensation for the years they spent behind bars, the Daily Mail reported on Monday. They claim they were on a ‘spying mission’ for Indian intelligence agencies and that the government discarded them once they got arrested in Pakistan.
Even after their return to India after languishing in jail, the authorities remained indifferent towards them, they said. The only exception was Kashmir Singh, who got land and monetary compensation from the Punjab government. He returned in 2008 after spending over three decades in a Pakistani jail. Karamat Rahi, who lives in Gurdaspur district’s Khaira Kalan village, said: ‘I am living a pauper’s life now and have fallen off the agencies’ map. Former spies have been coordinating with each other across the border states. We plan to highlight our plight to the government and demand compensation for giving our prime years to the nation.’ Karamat had shifted to India from Pakistan in 1980.
‘The security agencies took advantage of my background. They pushed me back into Pakistan in 1983. I worked for the agency and got arrested in 1988 near Minar-e-Pakistan with sensitive documents. The agencies summarily condemned me following my arrest,’ he said. Karamat’s release was possible in 2005 after the intervention of then Punjab CM Amarinder Singh. ‘When I returned after spending 18 years in jail, I approached the agency for rehabilitation. They told me not to make a noise about my plight. But I need help for settling my son, who has grown up,’ Karamat said. Surjeet Singh, who returned to India after spending over three decades in prison, echoed similar sentiments. ‘I will relax for a few days and then work out a strategy for seeking compensation from the government,’ he said, adding that he would welcome any move by fellow ‘spies’ towards a joint effort for compensation.
Daniel aka Bahadur, who hails from Dadwain village in Gurdaspur and pulls a rickshaw to earn his livelihood, also accused the ‘authorities who sent him to Pakistan’ of refusing to recognise him. Daniel was apprehended by the Pakistani rangers in 1993 and imprisoned for over four years. ‘I tried to contact the officers who had sent me to the country but no one bothered about me,’ he said. According to him, he met many other Indians incarcerated in jail in Pakistan on espionage charges. Another resident of Dadwain village, Sunil Masih, was arrested on February 2, 1999, in Shakargarh in the neighbouring country. He spent eight years in jail and returned home in 2006. ‘I was in a bad shape when I returned. I was vomiting blood and had wounds all over my body,’ he recalled. Karamat revealed many ‘spies’ had died in Pakistan unsung. Satpal of Dadwain village was arrested in the country in 1999 for being a RAW agent. He died in a Pakistani jail in 2000.
When the government tried to hand over his body to India, the agencies disowned him. His body was kept in a Lahore hospital for a month. It was finally sent to India after the local press highlighted the issue. The ‘spies’ indicated that the security agencies require them to act as couriers. After picking them up, the agencies train them to identify military vehicles and strategic installations. They also teach them the local language and customs. ‘In Kashmir’s case, he assumed a Muslim name and learnt to offer namaz. He was also circumcised,’ Karamat said. How the spies source information is another tricky issue. Corruption is deep-rooted in Pakistan as well. ‘Money always does the trick for us. What do you think, they will let me in at a cantonment if I enter it for selling oranges?’ a person claiming to be a former spy asked. He also claimed that several Pakistani soldiers were on the ‘payroll’ of Indian agencies.