I spy …not!



As I was growing up, I had acquired a friend who had desperately wanted to be a spy. Brought up seeing James Bond films and reading John Le Carre books, he had believed he could do much for the country and serve the people well as an intelligence officer in one of the various agencies in India.

His older brother soon cut short his dreams – their father was in the Indian Police and I remember the high drama as the younger boy was banned from joining the Intelligence wing of the government with threats from both parents to commit suicide if he did. I also recall what the father had said, “If you join the Intelligence, we may never see you again. You will be forced to live under false identities, we will have no idea about your missions, we will not even know if yur are alive or dead. Instead if you really want to serve the country, I would suggest you join the Indian army. I don’t mind if you die fighting bravely for the country, But not in a cloak and dagger fashion!’’

He was unhappy for years and just out of spite he did not join the army, instead he got himself an MBA and went off to the US, as far away from his parents as possible – in a bid to punish all those who had stopped him from chasing his dreams. His parents were saddened but always said `not as much’ as they would have been if they hadn’t known what had happened to him, “Even if he now over comes back to India again and settles down there wth a foreign wife, we at least know where he is and that he is alive and kicking. The suspense of not knowing would have really killed us.’’

Over the years I understood why his parents had stopped him from beng a spy, After what has happened to Sarabjit Singh I wonder what motivates and drives a man to undertake such missions for the country at such high risk for life and family. I am sure it is not patriotism alone for many of our spies seem to come from circumstances where such missions and the rewards might be highly worth it, I, at least, have no doubt that Sarabjit was not just a poor inebriated farmer who crossed the border under a stupour and I agree with his sister Dalbir Kaur that the government should have been more careful after they hanged Ajmal Kasab and particularly Afzal Guru, For no less than former Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil had indicated some years ago that the Indian government could not hang Afzal if they wanted to keep Sarabjit alive, “They have threatened to execute him if we hang Afzal,’’ he had said and everybody missed the underlying significance of that revelation.

Ajmal Kasab was, of course, abandoned by Pakistan right from the start despite the fact that he had crossed over to complete a mission assigned to him by his own country. Afzal was an Indian citizen but it is now clear he was working for Pakistani elements, whether state or non-state actors, and Sarabjit’s brutal murder in a Lahore jail was par for the course, as Patil had warned all those years ago.

What or rather who made the difference to Indian policy on executions is probably President p Pranab Mukherjee and that is just as well. Without going into the merits of capital punishment, I believe India has not been a soft state vis-à-vis Pakistan or else we would still have been feeding both Ajmal and Afzal on Indian tax payers’ money, That we did do that for so many years before hanging them I see as an act of fattening the goat before the slaughter – no one can accuse us of not having followed the law of the land, human rights violations or kangaroo justice.

The same clearly cannot be said of Pakistan. We may lawfully hang dreaded criminals but we do not lynch, we do not bludgeon our prisioners to death and we do not behead enemy solders on the borders of our country. Unlike hotheads who are demanding an eye fpr an eyue, which can only render the whole world blind,

I would rather be an inheritor of Buddha’s non-violence than an aulad of Chengiz Khan who came upto Pakistan but could never cross the Indus river and overrun Asoka’s territory. I also believe in Albert Einstein who said non-violence might seem to be slow and not working at all but in fact there is nothing that works more surely and wirh as deadly effect as ahimsa. Just look at how President Mujherjee as the country’s foreign minister achieved with just words after 26/11 what we might not have with a war as many others were advocating at the time. He exposed and put Pakistan ion the mat, it is today widely recognised as a rogue state and the most dangerous place on earth in terms of terrorism and rogue elements.

My civilised Pakistani friends are embarrassed all the time at having to explain away the misdemeanours of their country, I never feel let diown by mine. I am proud to be an Indian even if I will never be able to spy for my country. That is for better men and women (I am told there ar plenty of Mata Haris even in the Indian Intelligence services).

Meanwhile, I surprised myself by waking up with a prayer for Sarabjit in the morning, May his soul rest in peace. And may no one else be as abandoned as he was by his own countrymen on the end!

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  • Javed

    will you be submissive if a man tries to impose himself on you s8xually? same logic
    sometimes offensive is an effective defence. kill 5 to keep 500 safe. non-violence is weapon but not the only weapon and not the weapon always

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  • Guest

    Should we have exchanged Afzal Guru for Sarabjit Singh ? There are no easy choices in the shadowy war that has never stopped between the two sides.

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  • Guest

    Should we have exchanged Afzal Guru for Sarabjit Singh ? There are no easy choices in the shadowy war that has never stopped between the two sides.

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  • Mars

    Dude please get your history right, Ashoka the great was almost more than 1500 years before Genghiz kahn was born in 1162.

    Secondly what proof Pakistan had that Sarabjit was a spy. Why compare Sarabjit to Afzal or Kasab.

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  • Tanvir

    budy Are you a spokesman for so called Pakistani civilized?

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1095428366 Pankaj Maijerwar

    Pakistan is a terrorist state and Pakistanis are a rude and illegitimately cheating lot. I have seen these people around me for more that three years by now and I have never seen them to be truth speaking. These people are only concerned in showing themselves as the biggest and most religious Muslims. Other things are not in priority to them.

    Sarabjeet was a spy or not…this is not the matter. The matter is, why the hell we want to be friends with Pakistan! This country was formed on the base of hatred. Why can’t we just declare them, each and every Pakistani and their supporters even if technically they may be Indians as well, our enemy. And full stop. See them, shoot. Let them also do the same to us (which they are doing anyway).

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  • Shahid

    The author seems to forget that the inheritors of Buddha are no less violent than those of Chengiz khan. Just turn the pages of history and see for yourself. Go to Burma or Srilanka or to any country in the east and see what the inheritors of Buddha have done. We can’t escape the truth behind colorful anectodes. We can’t become holy by throwing sh*t on others. The incident involving a Pakistanin prisoner in Jammu shows how hollow the author’s words are.

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  • Haidar Ali

    Mission? to kill innocent people is mission for Indian Intelligence? A dirty game rapped in National Defense… ..

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  • Panky

    This is a rather confused article, and also has spelling and grammatical errors. We expect better from regular columnists on HT. The author also seems to imply that she knows conclusively that Sarajbit was a spy for India, and that he was deserted by the Indian intelligence agencies and Indian government. Both of these suppositions are an insult to Sarabjit’s memory. When someone is on foreign soil, his security is not always within our control. Afzal Guru was an Indian citizen, so Pakistan should have nothing to say about whether he should have been hanged or not, especially since he went through the due process of law and Presidential appeals etc. The evidence against Afzal was rather damning.

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  • Modi Zindabad

    “The same clearly cannot be said of Pakistan. We may lawfully hang
    dreaded criminals but we do not lynch, we do not bludgeon our prisioners
    to death and we do not behead enemy solders on the borders of our
    country. Unlike hotheads who are demanding an eye fpr an eyue, which can
    only render the whole world blind,” Wish the author was well read and it pains me to read naive ill-researched articles, pandering only to the basal instincts and naivety of the majority of the readers with such amazing conspicuous absence of facts.

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  • Manish

    I don’t know who Sujata Nandan is…but it is very apparent that she does not deserve to be a columnist for a leading National daily…she does not know the facts, has her history wrong and is not clear what message she wants to convey through the article having so many grammatical and spelling errors…She has based her entire article on her assumption that Sarabjit was a spy…and then somehow she moves to a completely different tangent towards the end…There should be an option to give -ve “stars” to an article which wastes time and effort of all.

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    Javed Reply:

    Very well said dude. I think our paanwallah offers a lot more pragmatism and sense than sujathhha and her drivel that she calls blogs
    Does she get paid for this ****? Wow

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  • mahesh

    the author is majorly ignorant of details of how spies are recruited and the nature of the work of our spy agencies. before writing the next time please try to learn something about what you are writing about.

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  • RahulG

    I left the article half way y’day I could not bear the illogic and pointlessness. But having read comments I came back to chk whether she is slantingly trying to justify attack on sarabjit comparing him with afzal.

    And lo yes this disgusting motherfcuking ugly b1tch is saying that india is responsible for sarabjit getting killed because we (lawfully) executed some terrorist called afzal guru. And we must not blame those rabid **** dogs (who hv gone mad due to the anti india venom someone put in their heads to enslave them) because they naturally want justice. This dimwit forgot that unwittingly assumed that sarabjit is a spy and went on to build a castle of (biased) opinions on flawed premise.
    I would never say this but, the opinion of this columnist is just as rotten,stinking and filthy as she looks in her photo

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  • wajid

    Sujata, could you please comment on the pakistani prisoner Sanaullah, who died in an Indian prison

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  • Praveen Saxena

    What is the buzz in Lucknow ? will NAMO follow Amit Shah to UP?

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    sunita Reply:

    yes — divide society on communal lines

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    Praveen Saxena Reply:

    ..paying back Congress and the other parties in the same coin…

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    sunita Reply:

    yes, in a way –

    Praveen Saxena Reply:

    Many thanks for your feedback

    Anonymous Reply:

    What do you say when Congress, SP and BSP communalize UP politics by offering reservation, freebies ONLY to muslims and pander to muslim hardliners?

    Looks like slamming BJP comes naturally to HT journos.

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    sunita Reply:

    No, personally speaking quota should be there, but not for caste and communities but for poor. Don’t slam HT – there is no such bias

    Anonymous Reply:

    Sunita,
    You should watch Newslaundry interview of Shobana Bhartiya and Vinod Sharma. Both admitted that they are pro-congress in their interviews.

    Please show me one blog critical of Congress (the way you slam BJP).