Former RAW officer tells the complete story of the double agent who got away

Discussion in 'Internal Security' started by Singh, Jul 15, 2012.

  1. Singh

    Singh Phat Cat Administrator

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2009
    Messages:
    20,305
    Likes Received:
    8,270
    Location:
    011
    Gripping read

    ===


    “Ravi Mohan and (wife) Vijita landed at Dulles International Airport (Washington) at 3.40 am. As they came out of the aircraft, they were received by a man who introduced himself as Patrick Burns. He whisked them away, bypassing immigration and Customs and took them to a secluded house in the heart of Maryland woods... the fugitives stayed incognito, while documents were being arranged to permanently wipe out their real identity. Three weeks later, Ravi and Vijita were set free to live their American dream as fake individuals, burdened to carry the sin of betraying their nation for the rest of their lives....”

    The passage appears in the epilogue of a yet-to-be released spy story titled Escape to No-where. But it’s the blurb ‘Inspired by a true story’ on the cover and the name of the author that sets this work of fiction apart.

    For, the writer is Amar Bhushan, a former special secretary of the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW). Bhushan was the head of the agency’s counter-intelligence unit till he retired in 2005, and has now cleverly masked identities to reveal what’s the unmistakable story of the detection and escape of Rabinder Singh — the former Army major who was discovered to be a CIA mole.

    Every name and several locations have been changed, but the narration of events — from Day 1, when Jeevnathan (the head of the Security Division of the Agency) is informed by a whistleblower that the “behaviour” of “Ravi Mohan” was suspicious, to Day 96 when the agency’s source in Kathmandu confirms the escape of the “suspect” with the help of the CIA Station Chief from there — is a fascinating account of the manner in which RAW’s security unit mounted an over three-month-long surveillance and then, for want of clinching evidence on who his handlers were, allowed Ravi (read Rabinder Singh) a window to escape.

    Singh had been serving as a joint secretary in RAW when he fled to the US.

    The surveillance drill that the RAW’s security unit put the suspected spy through included tapping his telephone lines, fixing surveillance cameras in his office (in the AC ducts), and listening devices in the official car and residence (codenamed ‘Alister’). Teams of watchers monitored his movements, contacts and flamboyant spending habits.

    The RAW even planted an operative at the gym where ‘Ravi’ would work out in the evening, writes Bhushan. When video footage showed him making photocopies of secret reports daily in his office to carry home, it was replaced with a sophisticated machine that allowed officers to get copies of every document that had been xeroxed.

    It was in mid-2004, says the book (by Konark Publishers), that ‘Ravi’s’ peon was intercepted transferring 13 files to his car. Bhushan writes that the files were seized and to ensure that he didn’t get suspicious, RAW conducted a search of each and every employee as they exited the high-security headquarters. The yield was a huge cache of secret documents (restricted from being taken home), DVDs and CDs as well as pornographic material.

    This was also the turning point, Bhushan writes, with ‘Ravi’ getting a hint that he may have been caught and beginning to plot his escape. The RAW chief, who was getting daily briefings, however, decided not to involve the “Bureau (Intelligence Bureau)” in laying the final trap and at one point almost called the surveillance off, writes the ex-RAW officer.

    Most revealing are the sections apparently inspired by Rabinder Singh’s “escape” to the US via Kathmandu. In the book, Ravi and his wife’s US passports have been issued by the “Authority”.

    Six weeks after ‘Ravi’s’ escape — even as the issue was being taken up by the RAW chief with his American counterpart — the author describes that a certain Roben Singh applied for asylum in the US, but his plea was turned down by an immigration judge.

    Writes Bhushan: “Roben Singh was none other than Ravi Mohan. The tale of his so-called misfortune is what is on record. Also, on record are scratchy details of his lost Indian passport in the name of Roben Singh, which cannot be verified by Delhi, because it was never issued. The US passport issued to him in the name of Virdi at Kathmandu does not exist anywhere. Roben currently stays as a refugee in Florida. So where would the US State Department and Interpol look for Ravi Mohan and Vijita Mohan?”

    In his epilogue, Amar Bhushan also writes how Ravi “left behind misfortune for his operatives and reprieve for his collaborators”.

    While the RAW faced flak for allowing the double agent to escape, the CIA Kathmandu station head was recalled from Nepal and retired compulsorily for “badly handling” ‘Ravi’s’ escape and exposing the CIA’s involvement. The CIA’s director, Operations, for South east Asia at Langley (the CIA headquarters) was also reprimanded for failing to ensure that the “Agent” was evacuated covertly, writes Bhushan.

    As for the “agent’s collaborators”, says the writer, 57 employees who shared information regularly with ‘Ravi’, continue to serve RAW. While 26 of them were never asked for an explanation, 31 who actively colluded and shared extensive operational details were posted abroad.

    ‘For 7 years, I dithered’

    In the preface, Amar Bhushan explains why he wrote the book:

    “For seven years, I deliberated whether to write this story. The worry was that it might appear to be a flashback to an incident of spying that was, not too long ago, passionately commented upon by pundits on security matters and extensively glamorised by the media. There was a concern if the story could be told without violating the provisions of the Secrets Act... Then one day my dithering was put to a severe test. An officer asked me to look back at my experience of handling espionage cases and reflect whether there was any reward for persuing them doggedly. He said that he would rather have arranged for counselling for suspects to stop them from committing irregularities that hurt the reputation of the Agency than follow my prescription. I was frightened to hear the officer. Was he suggesting that subversion of officers would be tolerated and contained as a matter of policy, while a country’s secrets made their way to unauthorised hands? It was at this point that the story began its journey....”

    Former RAW officer tells the complete story of the double agent who got away - Indian Express
     
    ejazr, parijataka, hit&run and 2 others like this.
  2.  
  3. The Messiah

    The Messiah Bow Before Me! Elite Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2010
    Messages:
    10,788
    Likes Received:
    4,552
    He should be tracked down and killed.
     
    Spindrift and sayareakd like this.
  4. sayareakd

    sayareakd Moderator Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2009
    Messages:
    15,625
    Likes Received:
    11,703
    killing would have been simple punishment for him.
     
  5. venkat

    venkat Regular Member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2009
    Messages:
    904
    Likes Received:
    195
    invite him for an atomic tea party!!!! :mad:
     
  6. sayareakd

    sayareakd Moderator Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2009
    Messages:
    15,625
    Likes Received:
    11,703
    [​IMG]

    Singh initially served in the Indian Army, reaching the rank of Major.[3] He later volunteered to join R&AW, India's external intelligence agency. According to reports, he attracted attention from counter-intelligence officials when he was found photocopying documents not related to his work. After coming under suspicion, he was placed under surveillance and his phone conversations were tapped, but on May 14, 2004, he disappeared. He is suspected of having escaped to the U.S. via Nepal.[4] Recently, in an affidavit submitted to the court, R&AW deposed that Singh has been traced to New Jersey.[5] It is believed by some that, meanwhile, Rabinder has filed for asylum in US, in the name of Surenderjeet Singh, which was rejected by the trial court but remanded back for reconsideration by the court of appeals. There has been no official proof however that Surenderjeet Singh is an alias of Rabinder Singh.[6]

    Rabinder Singh (intelligence officer) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
  7. ani82v

    ani82v Senior Member Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2012
    Messages:
    1,006
    Likes Received:
    706
    Location:
    Bangalore

    India is not called soft state for nothing.
     
  8. sayareakd

    sayareakd Moderator Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2009
    Messages:
    15,625
    Likes Received:
    11,703
    It is not that RAW cannot do it, just that our politicians dont have will to approve this kind of tough action.
     
  9. bhramos

    bhramos Elite Member Elite Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2009
    Messages:
    13,207
    Likes Received:
    6,638
    Location:
    Telangana/India/Bharat
    Of an Indian double agent: A true-to-life thriller

    Book: "Escape to Nowhere: Story of an Indian Espionage Agent"; Author: Amar Bhushan, Publisher: Konark Publishers; Pages: 332; Price: Rs.299

    In May 2004 a tsunami hit the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India's external intelligence agency. Rabinder Singh, a joint secretary, disappeared from Delhi though he was under 24-hour surveillance. The former Indian Army officer's disappearing act was as dramatic as was his spying career. But even as he made a safe getaway, a couple of eleventh hour mistakes he and his handler made helped the Indians to realize that the man had flown to the US under the protection of the CIA, whose agent he was.

    The book under review is meant to be fiction; but it is clearly THE story of the traitor, his spying career, how he came to be suspected, how RAW's counter-espionage unit mounted a major surveillance on him, how the civilian brass at the highest level wanted the surveillance ended because they did not want anything to spike India-US ties, how the committed ones in RAW continued to keep a watch on the spy, and how, sadly, he got away via Nepal.

    The book is unique. It has no chapters. It is so racy and thrilling that I would regard it as the finest work in the genre after "The Day of the Jackal". It begins from Day 1 and goes on, up to Day 96, when the mystery behind his disappearance is cleared. Akin to Perry Mason, the action is all too rapid with no full stops.

    Rabinder Singh is Ravi Mohan in the book. The then RAW chief, C.D. Sahay, is Wasan. Barring the names, everything else in the book, from the minute description of the inside of RAW headquarters to the elaborate net that was laid to trap the traitor and his handler seem as close to reality as they can be.

    This is a chilling book at one level. You realize that the Agency (RAW is never referred to by name) has men of steely character and moral courage. And there are those who are mediocre, view pornography at work, violate internal safety mechanisms and, in rare instances, betray their country.

    Once the bird flew away, there was hell to pay. The months of painstaking surveillance mounted on the man, his car, his office and his home counted for nothing. The fact that his arrest was being delayed only to trap his handler was lost sight of. The finale was deadly: Some in the highest echelons of the government with no love for RAW went on the offensive, reducing some of those who were meticulously tracking the traitor into mental wrecks.

    Amar Bhushan, who retired as special secretary in the Cabinet Secretariat in 2005, has written a fascinating book that everyone in the Indian security establishment must read. Indeed, every Indian ought to read this book. It chronicles a sad yet, seemingly, true story.

    Of an Indian double agent: A true-to-life thriller - The Times of India
     
    Koovie and skumar7777 like this.
  10. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2009
    Messages:
    11,613
    Likes Received:
    5,670
    Inside, RAW

    Inside, RAW

    For the first time, an ex-RAW officer talks about how badly it is run

    SAIKAT DATTA

    On the night of June 3, 1999, a Pakistan International Airlines winged its way across to Islamabad from Delhi bearing vital evidence that would create a flutter during the Kargil war. Vivek Katju, an old MEA hand, along with the influential R.K. Mishra of the Reliance-funded Observer Research Foundation, were carrying a secret package for prime minister Nawaz Sharif from the Indian government. Their mission was approved at a meeting of the cabinet committee on security chaired by then prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and attended by his senior cabinet colleagues—home minister L.K. Advani, defence minister George Fernandes and national security advisor, Brajesh Mishra.

    In the package Katju and Mishra carried was the biggest intelligence coup that India’s external intelligence agency, RAW, had ever managed to gather courtesy its technical wing—a telephone conversation between then Pakistan army chief, General Pervez Musharraf, and his chief of staff Lieutenant General Mohammed Aziz. The conversation proved beyond doubt that the Pakistani army too was actively involved in the Kargil incursions. Till then, it was being described by Islamabad as an operation being conducted independently by militants.

    But was the decision to dispatch the tapes to Nawaz Sharif a wise move? Now, for the first time an insider from RAW says that it was not. Major General V.K. Singh, who served in RAW in its technical wing between 2000 and 2004, told Outlook: "You never ever reveal your source in the intelligence game. Once that was done when the tapes were handed over, the source dried up and we did not get any intelligence from this sector for the next two years. So were the brownie points that we earned from sharing the tapes with the world really worth it? In my opinion, this was a violation of the basic principles of intelligence gathering."

    After the tapes were publicised, the Pakistanis came to know the technology being employed by Indians to tap into their internal communication and helped them get a fair idea of India’s secret listening posts and their capabilities. Says Singh: "The leakage was quickly plugged by the Pakistanis, leading to a virtual drought of quality intelligence for RAW."

    This clever-by-half move by the NDA and other revelations are contained in Singh’s forthcoming book India’s External Intelligence: Secrets of Research and Analysis Wing. Singh is the first insider to throw light on the agency’s inner working. The book addresses three issues that has plagued the agency for years—lack of leadership, no accountability and political mishandling.

    He reveals that even when it came to installing a secret communication network for the prime minister, RAW’s top bosses didn’t do the necessary homework. In May 2001, the Special Protection Group (SPG), which looks after the prime minister’s security, decided to procure a sophisticated communication system at an estimated cost of Rs 26.2 crore. RAW was asked to evaluate and identify the best system available. While the American firm Motorola emerged as the frontrunner, no mandatory tests were carried out for its "crack resistivity" (ability to withstand hacking) by the DRDO’s systems analysis group (SAG). "All communication systems with encryption systems must be tested by the SAG to ensure that people cannot hack into the system easily," Singh told Outlook.

    Also, as a rule, security and intelligence agencies always use indigenous crypto systems.

    "But in this case," writes Singh, "it was developed by an American firm" and "it was quite likely that foreign intelligence agencies would have access to the algorithm." Any foreign intelligence agency "such as the CIA or maybe even the ISI would be able to eavesdrop on the network and know the exact details of the movements of the prime minister and the measures being taken to protect him," he says. While Singh’s comments were accepted and the order postponed, it was given to Motorola without the mandatory SAG tests soon after his retirement from RAW.

    The Rabinder Singh defection episode was a bad bungle. Officers with no knowledge of intelligence facilitated his escape to the US.


    The defection of Rabinder Singh, a joint secretary with RAW looking after the Southeast Asia desk, shocked the agency. Maj Gen Singh now writes, "...lack of leadership at the top was responsible for the major fiasco." The activities of Rabinder Singh, a suspected CIA mole who later defected to the US, had already been brought to the notice of his superiors. A middle-ranking officer, S. Chandrashekhar, alerted special secretary Amar Bhushan. Rabinder was put under surveillance.

    So how did Rabinder defect with such ease? The answers perhaps lie in the lax manner in which Bhushan handled the sensitive case. Bhushan, alleges Singh, was too busy appropriating positions for himself to attend to the Rabinder matter. "He (Bhushan) changed his designation from additional secretary (personnel) to special secretary without the approval of the department of personnel and training." Soon Bhushan was also appointed as the head of Aviation Research Centre (ARC), an autonomous outfit under RAW.

    Singh feels that the then RAW chief, C.D. Sahay, "did not have the gumption to tell Amar Bhushan to stay out of RAW" and concentrate on his work in the ARC. Instead, Bhushan was allowed to induct N.K Sharma from the central paramilitary forces who had no training in counter- intelligence into RAW to keep a watch on Rabinder. As Sharma blundered along, Rabinder flew out to the US via Kathmandu. He left with top-secret RAW documents, including assessments on Southeast Asia countries as well as information that he had accessed from the reports of other officers. Ironically, Sharma was "rewarded" with a plum foreign posting.


    While the Rabinder Singh episode is a stark example of the rot that had set in, Singh goes on to record other examples of professional misconduct. He refers to an additional secretary, who when overlooked for promotion to the rank of special secretary, did not attend office for months. But no disciplinary action was taken against him. "This is unheard of. In the army, anyone away without leave for more than 30 days is declared a deserter," says Singh. This revelation is likely to embarrass a senior serving RAW official. Then again, Singh writes about how a senior officer spent lakhs having a logo designed for the agency. It could never be used for security reasons. Equally shocking is the case of an officer who funded his daughter’s education from the secret funds given to RAW. He had listed his daughter as an informant and paid her for ‘services’ rendered.

    Singh feels the lack of accountability and financial auditing is detrimental to RAW’s efficiency. "Coming under the ministry of home affairs, the Intelligence Bureau has a modicum of ministerial control," he writes. But "RAW does not even have this fig leaf of restraint to curb its activities." He says it is strange that our intelligence agencies are exempt from accountability which even the armed forces are subservient to. "If war is too serious a business to be left to generals, should not intelligence be considered too serious a business to be left to spies?" asks Singh.
     
  11. Spindrift

    Spindrift Regular Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2011
    Messages:
    308
    Likes Received:
    176
    We need patriots to be in-charge of things and not politicians
     
  12. Zebra

    Zebra Senior Member Senior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2011
    Messages:
    6,009
    Likes Received:
    2,251
    lol, :dude: patriots are scoundrels. :pound:

    Well, at least on DFI, people do think like that........ :troll:
     
  13. Bhadra

    Bhadra Defence Professionals Defence Professionals Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2011
    Messages:
    6,687
    Likes Received:
    2,357
    Maj Gen VK Singh mentioned in the report is different from Gen VK Singh who was the Chief.
     
  14. sayareakd

    sayareakd Moderator Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2009
    Messages:
    15,625
    Likes Received:
    11,703
    he should be put on unmarked grave for damage he has cause to country.
     
  15. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2009
    Messages:
    24,274
    Likes Received:
    11,283
    Location:
    BANGalore
    He is already living an unmarked life.

    Surprising that india has not pressured the US to deport him back to India.
     
  16. The Messiah

    The Messiah Bow Before Me! Elite Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2010
    Messages:
    10,788
    Likes Received:
    4,552
    whats also surprising is how pseudo-patriots have also kept quiet.

    if only his name was ravi mohammad/michael the right wing would be calling for his head and showing how patriot they are...but nevermind.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2012
  17. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2009
    Messages:
    4,518
    Likes Received:
    1,378
    Location:
    Hyderabad and Sydney
    Actually the way RAW functions is also part of the problem. There is no parliamentary oversight over intelligence agencies and no laws that govern their functioning. We dont' have an intelligence comittees like the US senate committee or the UK parliamentary committee on intelligence that oversees the finance and keeps an eye on its functioning.

    There is a need of a full fledged reform of the intelligence apparatus. We have an active thread running on this here
    http://defenceforumindia.com/forum/...8-national-security-intelligence-reforms.html
     
  18. VenuT

    VenuT Regular Member

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2010
    Messages:
    36
    Likes Received:
    9
    the author is constrained to not mention names and not make any allegations

    however, a piece in open magazine speculates about the role of brajesh mishra (then national security advisor) in facilitating the escape of rabinder singh to the united states

    source:
    The RAW Files BY Hartosh Singh Bal, 8 September 2012

     

Share This Page