Indian magazine Frontline, a publication of renowned newspaper The Hindu has revealed detailed accounts of India’s secret war inside Pakistan involving terrorist Kulbushan Jadhav, National Security Advisor (NSA), Ajit Kumar Doval and chiefs of the Research & Analysis Wing (RAW).
How it all started
Kulbushan Sudhir Jadhav bearing service number 41558Z was inducted into the Indian Navy in 1987, according to The Gazette of India which records promotions, commissioning and retirement of military officials.
Two Indian navy officials relay that Jadhav’s transition into the notorious spy world began after the parliament house attack in 2001 when the Indian navy was setting up nine naval detachments to monitor the Maharashtra and Gujarat coasts but they lacked an independent intelligence capacity to monitor threats from across the sea.
This is why Jadhav and his peers volunteered for spying. A senior Indian intelligence official who once met Jadhav recalls that, “Jadhav’s choice was of exceptional courage as few sign up for these kinds of dangers.”
However, “The commander was insistent that he be allowed to remain on the Navy’s rolls to secure his promotion and pay,” a senior Indian Navy official recalls. “The Navy didn’t have a system for off-the-books operatives overseas, so this was how it had to be.”
Jadhav was given a new name, Hussain Mubarak Patel on passport E6934766 as he began his covert operation by travelling to Iran from Pune in 2003.
Financial assistance and Iran
According to official sources, the funding for his overseas operations was provided by Indian Naval Intelligence whereas Iranian diplomatic sources supported this conclusion as Jadhav paid cash for establishing the “Kaminda Trading Company” which was used as a cover for his spy operations.
A senior Iranian diplomat said, “Tehran’s own investigation into the affair has shown that the Kaminda did little business, leaving a question mark over just why Jadhav stayed on in Iran for so many years. There are no records in Iran to suggest that Kaminda sought or received bank finance, a normal part of business.”
RAW expands operations
In 2006, the Balochistan insurgency exploded and the Indian intelligence community pressured their stations in Afghanistan to develop more contacts in the region.
“Our new asset in Chabahar soon began to be drawn into counterterrorism work for the Intelligence Bureau – raising fears that the fact that he was still on the organisation’s payroll could lead to embarrassment,” stated Indian Naval Intelligence officials.
According to sources, the Indian Navy Chief, Admiral Arun Prakash’s resistance to these efforts was overruled by the Indian Intelligence bosses because they were desperate for assets.
“The Navy was extremely worried about the possible consequences of the tasks being assigned to Jadhav by the Intelligence Bureau. However, we were basically told that since he was there, that was how it needed to be,” said one officer.
“The push to draw Jadhav into front-line intelligence work was driven by the IB’s ambitions to have an independent overseas role. RAW’s own intelligence capacities in the region, they argued, were more than adequate to address emerging threats,” stated former RAW officials.
Sources said that Jadhav gave an idea about a reprisal attack on Karachi in case another 26/11 attack takes place which grasped the attention of top Indian intelligence officials.
In 2010, Jadhav appeared before RAW officials for the first time but the head of RAW’s Pakistan desk, Anand Arni was unconvinced for Jadhav to work with RAW as he did not possess any intelligence that RAW did not already have.
“There were, shall we say, some small tests put to him in the course of the four meetings we had. He failed to give us anything particularly interesting,” a former RAW officer recalls.
On RAW Chief’s payroll
Successive RAW chief’s from 2009 till 2014 which included KC Verma, Sanjiv Tripathi and Alok Joshi made cash payments to Jadhav.
“This is a standard practice to maintain a working relationship with potential sources”, said an official familiar with the payments.
How he got caught
“For six hours, the hired car had driven through a forest of shadows, cast by the mountains of Iran’s Sistan-Baluchistan province—for generations, a refuge for smugglers, insurgents and spies. Heading towards Saravan, a town of 50,000 some 20 kilometres from the border with Pakistan, the car was carrying a businessman from Mumbai to a meeting. The men he wanted to meet were waiting, but there were others, too: like every spy story, this one ended in betrayal,” writes Praveen Swami.
Relationship with Uzair Baloch
Sources confirmed that Jadhav and Uzair Baloch, a Karachi-based ganglord developed a pivotal relationship 2014 onwards. Due to the latter’s Iranian passport, he was able to freely move in and out of Chahabar.
Jadhav’s next door neighbour was Jaleel Baloch who happened to be Uzair Baloch’s nephew. He used to take cash from Jadhav in return for useful information.
Pakistan military sources insist that Jadhav made at least five deliveries of a huge cache of weapons to terrorists supporting the Baloch liberation movement.
“Baloch was involved in espionage activities, by providing secret information/sketches regarding Army installations and officials to foreign agents,” reiterates an official Pakistani investigation document. However, the material he handed over appeared to be low grade.
Last year Uzair Baloch was arrested in Abu Dhabi by the Interpol and handed over to Pakistani authorities.
“Baloch’s interrogation, eventually led the ISI to the Indian whose operations in Chahbahar had gone undetected for over a decade,” Pakistani official sources confirmed.
Subsequently, in April 2017, Baloch admitted in his testimony that he was in touch with terrorist Kulbushan Jadhav and Iranian intelligence.
RAW operations in the past
RAW formed a cell, establishment 22 that operated under the command of Major General Surjit Singh Uban to wage a secret war in “East Pakistan” through the “Mukhti Bahini” which is now Bangladesh.
Establishment 22 personnel were even responsible for aiding Sikkim’s accession to India apart from training Tamil terrorists and armed rebels operating against the pro-China regime in Myanmar.
RAW even set up two covert groups, Counter Intelligence Team X and Counter Intelligence Team J that were responsible for retaliatory attacks in Karachi and Lahore when Khalistan groups attacked Indian cities.
But Prime Minister IK Gujral ended RAW’s offensive operations against Pakistan whereas his predecessor Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao, wounded up its eastern operations.
Jadhav in custody
He was sentenced to death by the Field General Court Martial in Pakistan on April 10 last year but his execution was put on hold by authorities till the International Court of Justice hearing was over.
On December 25, Jadhav was allowed to meet his mother and wife at the foreign office in Islamabad.