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The RAW escapades

The killing of Sikh leader in Canada & sentencing of Indian spies by Qatar are latest setback’s to the Indian agency

By Asif Iqbal |
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PUBLISHED November 05, 2023

There are some who become spies for money, or out of vanity and megalomania, or out of ambition, or out of a desire for thrills. But the malady of our time is of those who become spies out of idealism ~ Max Lerner

October 26, 2023 is another date which will be etched in Indian minds for times to come, when a Qatari court handed over death sentence to eight Indian Navy personnel on charges of spying for Israel. It is not the first time that India has faced international embarrassment and it seems the last few months have been quite happening – assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada, award of death sentence to Indian spies by the Qatari court and killings of Sikh and Kashmiri freedom fighters in Pakistan. As the pattern shows, the phenomenon is not going to be the end and yet more is to come. These incidents may seem isolated to any untrained eye but there is a pattern to this madness.

Like Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav, the names of Captain Navtej Singh Gill, Captain Birendra Kumar Verma, Captain Saurabh Vasisht, Commander Amit Nagpal, Commander Purnendu Tiwari, Commander Sugunakar Pakala, Commander Sanjeev Gupta, Sailor Ragesh will be difficult to erase from history. These personnel were employed by Dahra Global Technologies and Consultancy Services, a private company that supplied the military forces of Qatar with training and related services, and were purportedly apprehended in last August. Details are quite scant but it does indicate an established link between RAW and Mossad. Doval’s doctrine seems to have transmuted from ‘Defensive Offence’ to ‘Offensive’ and the recent killings in Canada and Pakistan are inspired from ‘kidon’ style Operation Wrath of God.

Operation Indian Chronicles conducted by EU DisinfoLab in 2019, is still fresh in the minds of the international media, which uncovered a massive disinformation operation by Indian authorities targeting international institutions, primarily focusing on Pakistan, and serving Indian interests by resurrecting dead media, dead think-tanks and NGOs, and even resurrecting dead people.

RAW was created under a government order with no formal parliamentary or constitutional backing and is exempt from any sort of legislative oversight. The RAW chief reports to Modi’s office through his confidant and loyalist National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval - the spymaster turned security czar, the longest running National Security Advisor, 9 years on and still running. May the RAW be headed by Samant Goel or Ravi Sinha, the pattern remains the same which indicates that Mr Ajit Doval is the mastermind. Being an ardent proponent of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and idealist of his Hindutva philosophy, Doval is actually the man behind the gun, directing and producing all intelligence operations with due blessings of his close friend Mr Narindera Modi, the famed ‘butcher of Gujrat’. Despite being in his late 70s, suffering from different maladies, the main being malicious Hindutva ideology, which remains his guide. Ever an idealist, he has glorified himself in self-praise to be the equal of Ravindra Kaushik, though the so-called Black Tiger was apprehended and he was not, during his stay in Pakistan.

RAW’s presence in Canada and Qatar, shows its reach in distant and near countries and the modus operandi highlights its efforts and focus on human intelligence operations. Their extended reach in Canada, as demonstrated through killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, indicates that it was not done overnight and they have taken ample time to develop human intelligence networks which are well rooted. Undertaking targeted assassinations like Mossad highlights the zenith of RAW, yet they have not been able to achieve the finesse, as was evident from expulsion of its Station Chief from Canada – the element of ‘plausible deniability’ is still lacking. Probably, that page from the Mossad playbook was missing – Mossad also faced a similar setback in 2010 when Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was assassinated in Dubai in 2010and Doval left it at the discretion of his field agents.

The ‘RAW’ relations between Canada and India and the recent humiliation faced through Qatar’s court, is not only embarrassing but a major setback to RAW’s ‘Offensive’ strategy. Though US and UK may not now pay much heed to the diplomatic row between Canada and India, because of their current obsession with China, and because of which India enjoys leverage and takes undue advantage of its position in the global power struggle. The Indian ‘hallucination’ will also fade out once the addiction to Chinese obsession fizzles out.

Intelligence gathering and operations are always fluid and it is fathomable that Five Eyes (FVEY) members are now going to be wary and more watchful of Indian espionage activities. RAW has likely gained more attraction than it desired which is going to create hurdles in field activities and there won’t be any more free passes. No matter how many times they deny any foul play, India is now in muddled waters and the stern actions taken by Qatar and Canada were strategic calculations in cold logic. This is how strong nations react to any misadventure on their soil. It also proves that India has lost its diplomatic position in both the countries and likewise their allies, and apparently the diplomatic relations will remain sour, for foreseeable future. Another setback is the exposure of its ‘Hindutva mindset’ which though being the main driver of its policies is now becoming slowly exposed to the world; though it will take its time but these recent events have certainly added fuel to it. The sham of ‘Shining India’ has taken a bad toll.

Arrest of Commander Kulbhushan was one of the biggest counter intelligence coups and where Indian government initially tried to underplay the event, later berated his apprehension. Seems not very far-fetched that the eventual end of Kulbhushan may be akin to Eli Cohen, where he would eventually be acknowledged as a national spy hero.


Asif Iqbal is a freelance researcher, and a counter terrorism and geopolitics analyst who focuses on South Asia. He can be reached on X @asifash

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