The Meeting with Family
On January 21, 1979, I was handed over three letters from my wife. I felt very happy, but it was short lived. This time the happiness disappeared for different reasons.
I read the letters time and again. From the letters it was clear that my wife was at a point of mental breakdown. She was in complete darkness. She didn't know why her husband was arrested, where he was and why she did not receive any letter from him and why she was not allowed to meet him.
From the letters which were written on 01, 05 and 06 January 1979, it was evident that she was in Delhi, treading unknown and hostile paths in the search of her husband in total darkness. The authorities were too cruel to pity a hapless lady. There was no one to help her or give her the reasons.
I had been shifted on 27 December 1978 from Delhi and she was searching for me there till as late as 6 January 1979.
`Didn't someone have the decency to tell her not to waste her time? Wasn't there any one to show a little compassion to a helpless lady with two small children, if not respect? How can I tell her there was nothing bad about me, except the mutilation of certain limbs of my body and that they were trying to implicate me in a false case of spying. But then there was no cause of worry as I have every possible evidence to rebut that has been obtained from me under brutal torture. Oh God! how could I take her out from this extreme mental torture?'
I requested an interview with CO and to give me an envelope to write a letter. But neither the interview was granted nor was an envelope given to me.
It was on January 27, when another letter from my wife, made me mentally imbalanced. So the CO had to come.
When the CO came I asked him to read the letter and I abused the CO for his callous attitude. I said that the CO would face the consequences for his incompetence, and that I would kill him if some thing went wrong with my wife.
The CO became nervous. He said, `You'r unnecessarily shouting at me. You have no business to insult me. I am your CO, remember that. And...'
`That's exactly why I am shouting at you, sir', I interrupted `for you are my CO. And it's under you that not only I, but my wife is also undergoing a hellish time..... If I'm accused, does this give any right to you or anyone else, to do whatever you feel to my wife?'
Looking concerned over my helplessness the CO confided in me.
`Rathaur, you're not realising my difficulties. I have already told you that everything is being done from the top. Do you know that I have strict directions? You are not even supposed to be given the food from the officers mess; at least.....'
`Sorry. Listen to me first. Your wife has been permitted to meet you. A few days back a letter to the effect has been sent to her... But you're not supposed to be told. However, considering your condition I am doing it. For God's sake don't tell this to anyone. Okay?'
Was not the CO a hypocrite? There was no one who came to my cell. Then who could I tell? And I said so to the CO.
The CO promised to send a telegram to my wife informing her that four of her letters had been received; and here, at least the CO kept his words.
Accompained by her brother, my mother and daughters, my wife met me on 08 February 1979.
Seeing the human wreck that her husband was, she broke down.
present as an escort officer, was Lieut. Colonel SS Sohi, Commander EME, Hqs 16 Corps Troops, the CO. It was the first time he wore his name tag, with the help of which I learnt the name and the unit to which he belonged!
I narrated the tale of atrocities and showed all the left over marks of the grievous tortures. I further narrated how a false statement was obtained from me under the threats of eliminating me and my entire family; how at each step I'd tried to established my innocence and how that evidence was compromised by the interrogators.
While I was narrating all about my arrest, tortures, false confession and the implication of other innocent people, my wife who was in a continuous flow of tears, asked questions from Colonel SS Sohi, if such things were ever done in the Army. The Colonel kept quiet except occasionally expressing either his helplessness or ignorance of the matter!
When she asked why the medical checkup was not done, the CO said that he had forwarded the request, but no directions were received from the higher authorities till then!!
In the army, as is evident from the army procedures, a commanding officer does not need the permission from higher Hqs for a medical examination of any person under his command. He simply refers the person to the medical authorities. Why then was the permission sought by Colonel Sohi, from the higher Hqs in my case?
The meeting was allowed for about three hours. My wife had to go back since there were no accommodation arrangements made for her.
It was surprising that the authorities did not do so. My wife was staying at Dehradun and had to come from there to a place called Nagrota, where it was impossible for her to arrange accommodation in a day or two.
Nagrota was a family station and if the authorities wished, the accommodation could have been easily made available but how then was the harassment possible to the wife of a traitor?
The authorities had taken a hostile and arbitrary approach.
A couple of days prior to the meeting there had been a little improvement in the cell. The blankets were replaced a cot was given and the light connection was restored. I was also given reading material, like magazines which were as old as two years! Still it was a great relief from the drudgery of the long isolation. Though what was provided to me must have been near the minimum living standard of a prisoner in the fourteenth century. It was certainly not for me, who lived in the twentieth... But after what I had undergone, it appeared for me like a gift from the heavens.
I would have continued living in isolation playing my improvised games, but for the fact that my wife was permitted to meet me. The army authorities did not want to disclose the atrocities being committed upon her husband, hence the change.
Before leaving Kamptee, I had told my wife, I would return within four or five days. She had also received a letter from me through Major Tandon stating that I would return in the next three or four days.
When considerable time lapsed and there was still no news about me, she started worrying. initial enquiries from the CO, Lieut. Colonel KM Nanda revealed nothing except that I was held up in Delhi due to some important work.
A month passed and yet there was no news.
In September, 1978, there were unprecedented floods in Delhi which had caused enormous loss to life and property. Could something had gone wrong in the floods? If not then why had I not written a word about my welfare? It was unlike me considering the past! My wife was overridden with anxieties.
Her persistent enquiries to the CO revealed after one and half months that I was under close arrest in Delhi. Why and who had arrested me? It was not told.
She had no money with her, no information where to locate her husband, where could she go with her two small kids. There was nothing she could do except weep. Who could she turn to for assistance?
It was not an easy task for a lady who had never ventured outside the four walls of her house. Everything was in absolute darkness, but she decided to take a plunge in that darkness with a resolve to meet me.
Taking a cue from the CO she left Kamptee for Delhi and after wandering from place to place she was able to find out that I was arrested by Colonel Harbhajan Singh; the Commandant, Rajputana Rifles Regimental Centre.
On 09 October 1978, she went to him, but it was of no use. She was not allowed to meet me. However she obtained an address care of which she could write to me. Thereafter she left for Dehra Dun to stay with her brother who was also a captain in the army.
It was then, that I received the first ever communication from her, when the letter had been handed over by Major Jolly and Mr. Chaudhary; and she too was able to get a brief letter from me in the last week of October 1978; and continued getting a letter fornightly.
She however could not make out why I was put under arrest. Persistently she asked in her every letter to give the reasons, but no reason was ever given. thus apprehending foul play she had assured me in one of her letters that she would go to the Defence Minister. But she always received letters forbidding her from taking any such action!
Alas! how would she have known, such letters were written under compulsion and threats imposed on me by the masters of my destiny. A destiny that had taken a dramatically serious turn, which was to completely destroy the peace of mind and reduce her to absolute destitution.
She was persistent, at the same time in her efforts. She had approached the DMI through letters seeking permission to meet her husband. In reply she kept receiving false assurances, from the authorities concerned. In his letter dated 21 October 1978, the DMI assured her. He wrote :
"Dear Mrs. Rathaur,
1. I have received your undated letter regarding your husband Captain RS Rathaur.
2. Captain Rathaur is not attached with my Headquarters. However, I have made enquiries and found out about him.
3. Captain Rathaur is in perfect health and there is no cause for you to worry on that account. I have found out and I assure you that he is being treated absolutely properly.
4. I do appreciate your worry and as a brother officer, share it also. But from what I have found out, it appears to me that it would not be in Captain Rathaur's interest if your meet him.
5. I would like to assure once more about Captain Rathaur's good health.
With all good wishes.
(Maj. Gen. H Kaul, AVSM)"
Such were the assurances given by no less a person than the DMI, at a time when I lay physically wrecked, nearly on my death bed.
It's ironical, my arrest was in direct knowledge, in fact on the direction of the DMI, yet he denied it.
Even if he had to deny it then why did the DMI make false and misleading assurances to a helpless lady? Why was the meeting her "that time" not in my interest? Was it bad for me or for the DMI's interest if she had met? (It was because Havildar Ram Sarup was killed on 01 October, and my contact at that time to the outside world would have given definite proof against the murder).
The answer lay in the designs of the Intelligence Directorate.
They were apprehensive of two things. The sacred job; that was unearthing the biggest spy ring would have failed prematurely if my wife had then met me and secondly their atrocities would have come out in the open!
She waited till December 1978. Finding no response she once again ventured and went to Colonel Harbhajan Singh.
It was 26 December when she begged the Colonel to allow her, not to talk to, but at least see me.
Colonel Harbhajan Singh after consulting some one on the telephone granted her permission. However, due to administrative difficulties she was allowed to meet me only after two or three days. She was, therefore, asked to come after three days!
And when she went, to her dismay she was asked to wait for another three four days and then finally told that I was not in Delhi, but had been shifted to 437 Signal Regiment somewhere in J & K.
Thus ended her venture in utter frustration. Broken hearted she returned to Dehradun.
And then my letters, the only source of her for passing time, also stopped coming. There was nothing on which she could pin her hopes. It was most tormenting and unbearable for her, everyone my parents and the children asked : where is our son; where is our Papa?
In reply she had only tears, and slowly the tears also left her. She became a victim of the worst mental torture that reduced her to a mere skeleton.
After returning from Delhi she wrote a personal letter to the Chief of the Army Staff. It mentioned in detail the list of harassments to which she was subjected to and a request to grant her the permission to meet her husband. If the Chief also did not take any action in that regard, she wrote, then she would go to the President to seek her rights as a citizen of India.
A similar letter was written to the Colonel, General Staff Officer Intelligence Hqs 16 Corps. And then she finally received a letter from Hqs 16 Corps, permitting her to meet me. She was overjoyed at the success of her long drawn effort. But did the joy last long?
She was shocked beyond belief to see my condition. But there was nothing she could do when we met.
I had been requesting my CO to provide me with requisite stationery, after my deposition in the court. I wanted to apprise the Chief, while there was still enough time to put the SPY TRAIN into a reverse gear, before it became too late. Ultimately my request was conceded. I wrote a letter of eight sheets and handed it over to the CO for further despatch.
In the letter after pleading my innocence, I explained in detail about the atrocities which were being perpetrated by the interrogators on innocent people. I wrote, "I always cherished the idea that the interrogation centre was like a temple, a sacred place where the innocent were segregated from the wrong doers, but to my horror I have found the Indian Army Interrogation Centres are nothing less than butcheries; human butcheries, where any live stock coming in does not go back alive. It is either, slaughtered or it dies of disease. If a person is made to stand day in and day out without sleep or rest with unimaginable beating, then a day will come when the body of the victim will refuse to endure anymore and his mind will revolt, for the human body is vulnerable to the outside force of torture and the mind deprived of any physical support, fallible. And if at that point a story, is fed to the victim, without any thought, the victim is bound to accept it." I gave a couple of instances of persons about whom I was made to cook up stories. The excerpts of such stories were quoted pointing out at the so called disclosures, to prove them as cock and bull stories.
I made a request to the Chief to put a stop to sending any more persons to the SPY PRODUCING FACTORY, to have the entire SPY CASE investigated through an impartial tribunal consisting of members outside the Intelligence Directorate. The letter was handed over on 01 February, 1979.
What happened to the letter was never known, but it remained a fact, that the factory never stopped production!
|Preface | Temporary Duty | The Move Order | The Train Journey | The Reception | The Army HQ | Close Arrest | The Interrogation | Background | The Intelligence | The Security | The Devil | The Confession | The Foundation Stone | The Great Detectives | The Corroborations | An Approver | Confrontaions | Hibernations | Leading to the Trails | Fairy Tales | Into the Fire | Army Procedure | As a Winess | Meeting with Family | Habeas Corpus | Death of Democracy | The Trial | Prosecution Case | The Defence | The Press | Rebuttal | Aftermath | Mystery | Postscript | Annexure I | Home ||