Kulbhushan Jadhav was allowed to meet his wife and mother for 40 minutes after the government of Pakistan issued a visa to them on December 20. The entire meeting was video recorded where they spoke via an intercom, with a glass wall in between. Jadhav has been in Pakistan’s custody since March 3 last year.
Before Kulbhushan Jadhav, there were many Indians who were accused to be spies (whether true or not) and were either sentenced to death, died in jail or returned back to India. Here is the story of three Indians who did not return to their homes.
1. KASHMIR SINGH
He served in the Indian Army from 1962 to 1966 and later joined the Punjab Police. He took up spying on a contractual basis for ₹400 a month at the earlier stage. He entered Pakistan under a pseudo-name of Ibrahim so that he could disguise himself as a Muslim. When he was arrested in 1973, by Pakistani Intelligence Officers, he was charged with espionage and smuggling.
His arrest took place on Peshawar-Rawalpindi road. He had said that he experienced third-degree torture in Pakistani jails while they tried to make him confess that he was a spy. When he was arrested, he was married to a woman named Paramjit Kaur and had three children.
In 1973, a Pakistani court sentenced him to death. Various petitions for mercy were rejected. As per an article in The Indian Express on March 7, 2008, Singh was lodged in seven different jails in Pakistan and was “kept in solitary confinement and remained chained for 17 long years.”
In March 2008, Singh was released after 35 years through the Wagah Border when President Musharraf granted him a pardon. Caretaker Human Rights Minister, Ansar Burney had spotted him in Lahore jail and brought it to the attention of the President. From 1973-2008, Singh lived a life that most cannot even imagine.
2. RAVINDRA KAUSHIK
Kaushik was born in Sri Ganganagar of Rajasthan in 1952. He was a famous theatre artist and his skill for dramatics was spotted by a few intelligence officers of RAW who later offered him to become an Indian spy. He was given extensive training for two years in Delhi.
At the age of 23 in 1975, he was sent to Pakistan under the identity of “Nabi Ahmed Shakir”. He worked as a civilian clerk in the Pakistani army and later in the Military’s Accounts Department. As per an article in The Pioneer dated August 13, 2012,
“Sunnat was performed on him to show him as a Muslim. He was taught Urdu, given religious education and acquainted with the topography and other details about Pakistan. Being from Punjab-speaking Sri Ganganager, he was well versed in the language which is spoken in major part of Pakistan. He was shown a resident of Islamabad. He successfully got admission in Karachi University and completed his LLB. Later, he was able to become a commissioned officer in Pakistan Army. He rose to become a Major.
Soon after, he got married to one Amanat, who belong to a well-off family. He also became the father of a girl. In 1979, he carried out a major operation that won him accolades from his bosses. His code name was changed to “Black Tiger,” in recognition of his services.
In 1983, Indian intelligence agencies had sent an agent, Inyat Masih, to get in touch with Black Tiger. But the agent was caught by Pakistan’s intelligence agencies. During interrogation, he broke down and revealed his purpose. He identified Black Tiger and Kaushik was arrested immediately. He was awarded death sentence, which he contested in the Supreme Court there. It was converted into a life term. That was in 1990. He was kept in various jails, including Sialkot and Kot Lakhpat.
During his imprisonment, he was able to secretly send out half a dozen letters to his father. “From these letters, we came to know the real life of Ravinder Kaushik. According to a letter received from Kot Lakhpat Superintendent, Kaushik died of TB sometime in 2001. The family, during these years, had never received any communication from his handlers.
As per an article in the Telegraph dated August 7, 2012, ” On 26 July 1999, he succumbed to pulmonary tuberculosis and heart disease in New Central Jail Multan. He was buried behind that jail.” Kaushik’s family says that the movie, Ek Tha Tiger (sequel Tiger Zinda Hai) was based on his life.
3. SARABJIT SINGH
Sarabjit Singh was born in Tarn Taran district of Punjab along the Indo- Pakistan border. As per various sources from India Today, BBC, CNN-IBN, “Singh was caught on an unmarked Indo-Pakistani border area in Pakistan and arrested by the Pakistan Rangers near Kasur. Singh and his supporters claimed that the arrest was a case of mistaken identity and that he was only a poor farmer who was drunk and had strayed over the border. His sister said that the family launched a search but could not find any clue to his whereabouts for nine months. After a year they received a letter from Singh, informing them that he had been arrested in Pakistan as Manjit Singh, as he had no identification papers and had been charged by the Lahore police in the bombings. He was convicted of spying and carrying out the bombings and was given the death penalty.”
Further, various articles from Dainik Bhaskar, The Nation and BBC state, “Singh was attacked on 26 April 2013 at about 4:30 pm in the Central Jail Lahore (Kot Lakhpat jail), allegedly by other prisoners, with bricks, sharp metal sheets, iron rods and blades. He was admitted to Jinnah Hospital, Lahore in critical condition with severe head injuries, in a coma, with a broken backbone. He was placed on a ventilator. The exact circumstances of the attack and the number of attackers have been differently reported. Some sources have indicated that there were six assailants whereas others have indicated two. Some indicated that he was assaulted in his cell; others indicated that the attack took place when he was brought out of his cell for an hour-long break. According to his sister, the attack on Singh was pre-planned and the jail authorities were involved. His wife, sister and two daughters were allowed to visit him in the hospital.”
There are many times when those who are not spies are branded to be so. The truth, however, dies with them.