Spy, mole or just a lonely lady?



It’s been many years since a good spy story broke in India. And Madhuri Gupta unfortunately is turning out to be an also-ran story at best, but funny.

Let me start with a caveat: there is no official version of the story yet, not one released on a signed statement by any wing of the government involved.

Stories about espionage and counter-espionage are very tricky to report and follow. No one actually confirms or denies them, so journalists go with whatever they can lay their hands on.

At Hindustan Times, we are printing information confirmed by at least two sources. Though it’s not easy, we managed and quite well so far – been ahead of the curve.

On day one, we had the bit about Gupta telling her investigators that she was surprised it took the Indian establishment so long to catch her. The second day we landed the juiciest bit yet on the story.

And it goes like this: Gupta was looking for male company and she found it in a Pakistani police officer Mudassar Rana, who, incidentally wanted a little more – essentially confidential information on India. Sure, Gupta said, anything for you.

Every morning, she would gather the day’s Urdu papers, pick out some juicy bits, write them in English and pass them on to Rana, who never suspected anything amiss.

Gupta got Rana and Rana got, what he thought was, information. Neat, isn’t it?

Except she was probably passing on some real time intel too, the kind of stuff available to a junior officer like her.

Gupta might have even blown the cover of the intelligence men posted there – not the Pakistanis needed her help to that (they already know). Great story, but the reporting on it has been hampered by lack of information.

When the story first broke, we jumped in excitement: a woman spying on India for Pakistan? Mata Hari, some one said, predictably referring the world’s most famous double agent.

But Gupta is no double agent.

And, we realized by and by, she was not much of an agent.

Actually, one hell of an agent, it now figures.

Can you get cleverer than this, by passing on information from the local press?

By the way, hope you know the source of a lot of the so-called secret information collected by intelligence agencies – newspapers. And they admit it, mostly in an unguarded moment (under the influence of liquor).

Is it possible Rana had outsourced his job to Gupta?

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