Meeting India's angry spy Surjeet Singh

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by ashicjose, Jul 4, 2012.

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  1. ashicjose

    ashicjose Regular Member

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    Surjeet Singh, an Indian spy, was released last week after more than 30 years in a Pakistani prison. The BBC's Geeta Pandey travels to his village in the northern Indian state of Punjab to hear his story.

    When Surjeet Singh left home to go to Pakistan on a cold winter's day in December 1981, he told his wife he would return very soon. It was 30 years and six months before they saw each other again and his jet black beard had turned white.

    While he was incarcerated for spying in Lahore's Kot Lakhpat jail, his family had given him up for dead. He was utterly isolated; he didn't receive a single visitor or even a letter. Some of his time in prison was spent awaiting his end on death row. Only his faith sustained him.

    "All because of the almighty. He helped me through those long years," he says.

    While India's economy boomed in those three decades, tragedy struck his own family. His eldest son died, as did four of his brothers, his father and two sisters.

    'Hurt and angry'
    So when Mr Singh came across the Wagah border last week at the age of 73, he returned to a country and a family that had undergone radical change.


    Surjeet Singh is a changed man now
    Once on home ground he stunned everyone by openly admitting that he had gone to Pakistan "to spy". India has always denied claims by those returning after stints in Pakistani jails that they were spies for India. And this time it was no different.

    But after what felt like an enormous personal sacrifice for his country, Mr Singh is hurt - and angry- by the denial.

    "It was the Indian government which sent me to Pakistan. I did not go there on my own," he tells me when I meet him in his village Fidda, a little over a two-hour drive from the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

    Mr Singh rejects criticism that he is claiming to be a spy "just to get some importance" or because he is "suffering from "delusions of grandeur".

    In his absence, he says the army paid his family a monthly pension of 150 rupees ($3). "If I didn't work for them, then why did they pay my family?" he asks.

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    After so many years he's rejoined the family, it has caused me immense pleasure”

    Harbans Kaur
    Surjeet Singh's wife
    Mr Singh says the government has treated him 'unfairly" and that he is willing to fight for what is rightfully his. But if the authorities continue to deny that he worked for them?

    "I have documentary proof, I will go to the Supreme Court to get what is my right," he threatens.

    Mr Singh declined to show me the documentary proof and it is unclear exactly what his role was. He seems to have acted partly as a courier and says he did some recruiting of Pakistani agents.

    He says that as a young man, he worked for a few years with the paramilitary Border Security Force before leaving it in 1968 to become a farmer. In the mid-1970s, he says the Indian army recruited him to work as a spy.

    "I did 85 trips to Pakistan," he says. "I would visit Pakistan and bring back documents for the army. I always returned the next day. I had never had any trouble."

    But on his last trip, things went horribly wrong.

    "I had gone across the border to recruit a Pakistani agent. When I returned with him, an Indian official on the border insulted him. He slapped the agent and wouldn't allow him in. The agent was upset so I had to escort him back to Pakistan. In Lahore, he revealed my identity to the Pakistani authorities."

    Mr Singh was arrested in Lahore and taken to an army cell for interrogation. In 1985, an army court sentenced him to death. In 1989, President Ghulam Ishaq Khan accepted his mercy plea and commuted his sentence into life in jail.

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    We always had a feeling that if he was alive, we would have eaten better food, worn better quality clothes and had a better social standing”

    Parminder Kaur
    Surjeet Singh's daughter
    "Initially, I had no hope of returning home. When I was on death row, I thought this is it. But when it was commuted, I had hope."

    Given up for dead
    There are other Indians in Pakistan's jails. Mr Singh says there are 20-odd Indian prisoners in Lahore's Kot Lakhpat prison - all accused of spying. Two others - Sarabjit Singh, India's most famous prisoner, and Kirpal Singh - are on death row.

    But, he says, India has done little to secure their freedom.

    "The government doesn't care. It refuses to do anything for these Indian prisoners. The authorities forget that these men are also someone's husband, someone's son, someone's brother."

    India's policy on the issue is not to comment.

    When he did not return home as promised, his wife Harbans Kaur initially thought he was held up for work. But when days turned into weeks and weeks into months and months into years, she says she didn't know what to think.

    "I didn't know whether he was dead or alive," she told me.

    Daughter Parminder Kaur was 12 or 13 when her father went missing. Parminder and her siblings had to drop out of school soon after as the family couldn't afford to educate them.


    Surjeet Singh returned to India amid emotional scenes
    "After a while we thought he was dead. We missed him. We always had a feeling that if he was alive, we would have eaten better food, worn better quality clothes and had a better social standing," she says.

    And then, suddenly in 2004, 25 years after he went missing, a letter arrived at the family home. Mr Singh had addressed it to his younger son, Kulwinder Singh Brar.

    And that is when the family knew that the man they had given up for dead was alive.

    "After we got his letter, I became hopeful that I will see my husband again," says Harbans Kaur.

    Family happiness
    Now Mr Singh is getting to know the new family members -- eight young grandchildren.

    It has been four days since his return and he hasn't had a minute to himself - visitors and relatives have been pouring in besides the dozens of reporters who come to interview him.

    "I've lost count of how many interviews I've given. I was better off in jail," he says.

    Mr Singh's outbursts and reproaches in the past few days have had some impact and help has begun trickling in.

    The state administration has promised to build a concrete road to his farm, install a tubewell on his land and provide him with an electricity connection.

    Punjab's Irrigation Minister Janmeja Singh Sekhon visited him on Monday and gave him 100,000 rupees ($1,826; £1,164). Some local people and groups also pitched in by collecting 250,000 rupees ($4,565; £2,910) for him.

    Today, as his wife sits next to him, she cannot stop smiling.

    "He still looks the same," she says. "Yes, he's gone all grey, but so have I. After so many years he's rejoined the family, it has caused me immense pleasure."

    BBC News - Meeting India's angry spy Surjeet Singh
    Why our Gvrmnt treating people this way :mad: they are sacrificing their life for your/my country and see what they are ( their family ) getting back.:tsk: 150 Rs./ month ?
     
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  3. maomao

    maomao Veteran Hunter of Maleecha Senior Member

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    Our GOI is a joke! The more it remains under the control of secular/corrupt congress the more messier the country will get!
     
  4. drkrn

    drkrn Senior Member Senior Member

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    There is nothing we need to thing bad about goi in this matter.
    i suppose even pakistan too wont claim about their spies arrested in india.
    may be due to diplomatic problems.

    more over accepting publicly about our spies will worsens situation for others in pak
     
  5. ashicjose

    ashicjose Regular Member

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    Why you are comparing it with ----istan ,remember the Anna Chapman ( russian spy ) incident and India should learn from it to how to deal with the spies.And look at the family of them ,our gov.should take the responsibility to compensate (like by providing some job for their family member or by adequate financial help from the point of their capture.
     
  6. Payeng

    Payeng Daku Mongol Singh

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    Now what is this :angry:
     
  7. KS

    KS Bye bye DFI Veteran Member

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    This guy surjeet is not fit to be a spy. Spies dont say they are spies especially when his words blew away any chance Sarabjeet had for re-patriations.
     
  8. maomao

    maomao Veteran Hunter of Maleecha Senior Member

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    The issue is not about accepting the spies or not! However, taking care of their families should be the top priority, which clearly our GOI never cared due to their aloof-elite-corrupt functioning!
     
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  9. Sunder singh

    Sunder singh Regular Member

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    wat about his family and his life 3$ monthly penson so sad
     
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  10. ashicjose

    ashicjose Regular Member

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    Will you say the same if you were the unlucky guy.
     
  11. KS

    KS Bye bye DFI Veteran Member

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    I will not agree to become a spy and venture into Pakistan if I dont have that mentality.
     
  12. Oracle

    Oracle New Member

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    Don't criticize what you don't understand, son. You never walked in that man's shoes -Elvis often used this adaptation of a well-known quotation.
     
  13. This Man Surjeet .... made 80+ successful excursions in espionage
    and then he lands in Jail , due to the ineptitude of an Indian Army officer . . .who exposed someone who risked his life daily for India

    and Then Indian govt does nothing for his release for 30yrs . . .
    and finally he gets released because it suited Paki govt . . .

    and u have the balls to Judge him not fit . . :hail:
    coz he opens his mouth abt how he was used by the authorities
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2012
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  14. KS

    KS Bye bye DFI Veteran Member

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    It doesn not matter who is right or who is wrong.

    It comes with the job description of being a spy and that is the fact. Surjeet may be a hero, but now he has jeopardised the chances of all other Indians languishing in Paki jails.

    The single paki retort would be -- these guys will say they are innocent here, but nice they cross the borders they will give press conference confessing they are spies..so why should we release them ?

    Yesterday Kashmir singh did that and now Surjeet.
     
  15. Oracle

    Oracle New Member

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    Leave it. There are many such posters who'd would cry hoarse when a Sri Lankan Tamil is killed, but look the other way when one amongst us is killed. It's ingrained.
     
  16. KS

    KS Bye bye DFI Veteran Member

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    Yeah..thanks to this guy dozens of others - innocents included - languishing in Paki jails will now fail to see the light of the day..

    Common sense seems to be not that 'common'.
     
  17. Oracle

    Oracle New Member

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    You care so much for those.

    Why don't you all right wingers gather guns and march into Pakistan and rescue them instead of lecturing without the slightest idea of what it is to be in Jails of an enemy country. Mr. Surjeet never talked in prison, captivity. He is a legend, who has not sold this country.

    And If you do march into Pakistan, I will write a cheque to you guys, anytime of the day, week and year.

    But no, you all have the guts to hide behind the internet and spread malaise and propaganda about other communities. And that is because your cultural upbringing has taught you how inferior you all are to the Muslims and Christians.
     
  18. God Forbid . . . but
    I'll like to know . .
    How ready you are....to stick to Job Description . . .
    After rotting 30 yrs in a foreign jail for a fault that wasnt even urs in first place . .
     
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  19. KS

    KS Bye bye DFI Veteran Member

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    He just did that idiot. He just put the lives of all those left behind there in Pakhana jails, on the line.

    And what it has got to do with right wingers ? I find it strange that you dont write a single post without right winger or Sangh in it....even if its about someone's slippers getting lost somewhere...were you abused as a child by someone who said he was a right winger ?


    Paste your check on a metre long paper and stuff it up -- I have tolerated your idiocacy for long.

    Everyone here is on the internet -- so what ? My upbringing atleast did not make me the self-hating waste of life form you are. Dont think everybody is like that.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2012
  20. KS

    KS Bye bye DFI Veteran Member

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    They take their secrets to their grave. That is what spies are..atleast the better ones.

    This guy may have the legal right to do what he is doing -- but his job's ethics demand he not indulge in such things.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2012
  21. why such personal personal attacks . . .

    the most Idiotic thing i have seen is judging people who actually done something for India . . . .
    other then expatriating to cooler climates. . .
     
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