Pakistan is lying about arrest of Indian 'spy'

It is time for PM Modi to run a full virus scan of our intelligence agencies.

 |  8-minute read |   27-03-2016
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Since March 24, 2016 the media in India and Pakistan are busy with the “breaking news/headline story” of the capture of an alleged spy of R&AW (Research and Analysis Wing – the external spy agency of India) and his subsequent confession to a very evil plot to destabilise the Balochistan region that is occupied by Pakistan.

The story broke on March 24 when Balochistan home minister Sarfaraz Bugti claimed that Pakistani security forces had arrested the Indian “spy” three days before, that is on March 21 from an unspecified location in the Balochistan province. Bugti further claimed that the real name of the arrested person was Kulbhushan Yadav and that he held the rank of commander in the Indian Navy.

Yet, is this the reality? Let’s analyse:

Scenario 1 - (Based on facts as we know them):

1) One Hussein Mubarak Patel, holding an Indian passport (L9630722) issued at Thane (Maharashtra) on May 12 2014, valid till 2024, and holding an Iranian residency permit of Chabahar Free Trade Zone (CFZ) permit issued on July 7, 2015 and valid till June 2016, was arrested near the Chaman border with Iran.

2) The Iranian visa/residency permit specifies that he is allowed to enter from Bazargan, a town in the west of the country.

3) If Patel had indeed entered Pakistan from Iran, this would place him in the southern end of Balochistan near the Makran coast, rather than up north near Quetta and Chaman. Why would he enter from the southern end and then travel through an insurgency-infested province to reach Chaman, when it is more easily accessible from Kandahar in Afghanistan?

Given the above inconsistency in facts as presented by the Pakistani government officials; let us look at another scenario:

Scenario 2 - (Based purely on speculation, rumours, innuendos, and various fact-less versions of this story, as reported by the Pakistani media at the behest of its master, the ISI):

a) Pakistan’s Dunya TV started the ball rolling by announcing that the "real" name of the arrested man was “Kulbhushan Jadhav” or “Kulbhushan Yadav” or “Kul Bhushan Yadav” (Three choices, no documents to prove this name belongs to the man concerned).

b) Then Pakistan foreign secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry got into the act by claiming that the arrested person was a “R&AW officer who had illegally entered Pakistan and was involved in subversive activities in Balochistan and Karachi”.

Karachi? How did this city that is based 815km to the south of Chaman (in Iran) suddenly pop into the picture? Chaudhry then went on to summon the Indian high commissioner in Pakistan, Gautam Bambawala, to issue him a demarche in an attempt to make the issue an “official” one.

c) On March 26, Dunya TV then went on to claim that this Indian “spy” had met twice in the past six months, with the chief of R&AW Rajinder Khanna. This raises new flags of suspicion. Did Dunya TV have access to the office diary of the R&AW chief or did they just pull this fact out of thin air?

Dunya TV then goes on to say that the accused spy used to sit in a jewellery shop in Chabahar and “run secretive terrorist operations against Pakistan with millions of dollars". What Dunya TV does not mention is; where exactly are these millions of dollars at this moment? Neither do they mention the source of their news on this issue.

d) One of the blatant lies being perpetuated by Pakistan is that the arrested “spy” is an Indian Navy officer who used to work for naval intelligence and then went on to work for/with R&AW. Which makes us wonder: Is this pure speculation by Pakistanis or is this story extracted from Hussein Patel under duress, by physical torture? There are a series of other such unprovable statements by Pakistan which are not worth mentioning here.

e) Pakistani sources are constantly claiming that Hussein Patel has “confessed” to be a R&AW spy and also to being an Indian Navy officer. The fact is that under torture, people will confess to anything to keep the interrogators happy. (If Pakistani foreign secretary Chaudhry is “interrogated” by our Yadavs, I am sure that he will confess to the killings of every Gandhi in India).

What adds a dangerous twist to this tale are the actions of the Indian government and the Indian mainstream media.

Let us start with the actions of the ministry of external affairs. MEA spokesman Vikas Swarup started the ball of confusion rolling by stating that the arrested person was a "former Indian military officer" and that "the said individual has no link with the government (of India) since his premature retirement from the Indian Navy".

By this one statement, India not only acknowledged that the arrested man has a military service record, but gave further ammunition to Pakistan to keep this issue boiling. What makes the case even more curious is that one department of the Indian government (MEA) had such fast access to the ministry of defence (MOD) that within less than a day of the story breaking across the media, the MOD not only found the file (records) of a retired Navy person, but shared it with MEA right away.

The MOD is not known for any such fast actions and this itself raised the first flag of suspicion, that there is more to this story than what is being projected to the nation. The most important question is: Who is that senior government of India official who instructed Mr Swarup to issue this provocative statement?

Let us now look at the role of the Indian mainstream media. On March 25, they started claiming that people in Hiranandani Garden of Powai (a suburb of Mumbai) were stating that the picture of the arrested Mr Hussein Patel resembled a Navy commander by the name of Jadhav.

These claims were not substantiated by any reliable source and it lent credibility to Pakistan’s storyline as reported by Duniya TV that Mr Hussein Patel was the same person as commander Kul Bhushan Jadhav/Yadav, Indian Navy (retired).

And therein lies the story behind the story. From the disjointed yet complete manner in which a full flow of information seems to be flowing from the Indian end through the Indian mainstream media; information that strengthens Pakistan’s storyline on the spy saga, we are left to wonder who is running this whole operation, and to what end?

Let’s consider what advantages Pakistan gets out of this unfolding drama.

Pakistan will keep on repeating, ad nauseam, that India is sponsoring separatists in Balochistan, and how Pakistan’s development and prosperity in Balochistan is being threatened by such activities. (Pakistan will also gloss over the repeated genocides, abductions, rapes and other crimes against humanity; that have been committed by the Pakistan Army against Balochi nationals). The other advantages will be the opportunity to embarrass the Indian government ahead of the New York summit and maybe put the minister for external affairs Sushma Swaraj in a diplomatically tough spot during her visit to Iran.

Let’s also consider who in India gets an advantage from this situation.

That the MEA spokesman Vikas Swarup has almost (but not quite) accepted that the arrested man has links to Indian military establishment has created an illusion that the government of India has an ulterior motive in Balochistan.

Add to this the pre-packaged story of a spy whose background was readily available to the Indian mainstream media and the story gets murkier. I asked a retired joint secretary of R&AW, that if Hussein Patel is actually a R&AW agent, how many people will have access to his complete file?

The answer is: Six officers at the topmost levels of the cabinet secretariat and R&AW. So, for one wild moment, if we assume that Hussein Patel is actually Commander Yadav, then the most terrifying question that pops into our mind is: Who among the senior six officers, passed this information to Pakistani intelligence services? And why?

Any spy working in a foreign territory will not carry any legal documents and identifications apart from the cover that he/she had established for that specific assignment. Yet, full background information is being readily available in this specific case, as if the singular purpose from the government of India is to establish Hussein Patel to be Commander Kul Bhushan Yadav, an Indian Navy official.

Who is that spymaster who is pulling these strings? To what end is this drama being played, to entangle a businessman into a political espionage game? Are there senior officers in our government who have a political agenda that is different from the official government agenda? Some information that is being publicly traded in the media is either pure speculation by Pakistan or, on a more dangerous note, is this factually correct information available to Pakistan because they have a source high in the Indian intelligence establishment, either directly, or by riding piggyback on the US intelligence agencies?

If our intelligence officers are compromised in any fashion, then Hussein Patel will be only the first among many who will be accused and arrested as R&AW agents. It is time for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to run a full virus scan of our intelligence agencies and find the leak in the system.

Writer

Sanjay Matkar Sanjay Matkar

The author is a Mumbai-based security consultant.

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