In jail I wanted to write. This urge, I feel, was there in some hidden slot of my subconscious mind all along, though occasionally emerging to the conscious surface. It disturbed me with varying degrees of intensity, coaxing and driving me to take up the pen. But whenever I tried to translate and give a form to my thoughts, I got bogged down. Was it a lack of ideas? Maybe I did not have anything concrete, or the thoughts were so many that confused my mind. The incoherence of thoughts forced me to abandon the attempt, leaving it to a latter date.
The thoughts were innumerous like the rain bubbles in a tank. A thought would come, swell, float for a while and then die. In exasperation, I would give up the effort of arranging them in a pattern, letting them take their own course. At this, the thoughts would slowly submerge in the cast ocean of the subconscious mind, leaving me drained and tired. I would gaze in the endless void not knowing what I was doing. Perhaps it was the inner force driving me to find an anchor, where I could halt the aimless drift of my existence and find some meaning for its base continuation.
The vitality of life was oozing out in a continuous flow, inducing a painful calmness, devoid of any desire for action. Truly speaking, in jail, one is forced to be in a state of inaction. This situation is brought about by the very surroundings. Here, time ceases. the feelings and emotions that separates the present from the past, fades away. There is no present only the past. To some extent one is free to dream about the future. But future never comes. So one is left with only the past, which is dead, where one finds denial and security. And so is the life in jail. Yet there is something deep within that connects a prisoner to the present and drives him to continue even though the existence is of the lowest level.
This inner something is a great motivating force that absorbs the pains and shocks and balances life, pushing one to struggle.
My struggle became two fold. I had to contend with the outer objective existence to recover from the fatal wound inflicted by the army; and I had to struggle with my inner subjective urges which I felt were deserting me.
The nature of allegations had alienated me from my surroundings and made it hostile. I was lonely-utterly lonely. A wife is a true companion who provides solace to the tormented soul. But I was separated from her. A few contacts with her in the form of interviews conducted in the dim babel of voices, was not enough. It only increased the pain. The awareness of lonely existence in the hostile surroundings further tortured my mind and soul. Its weight was choking. I was in a terrible agony. I realised, for me, there were two options; either to drift along the course destiny seemed to have carved for me and sink, or swim and survive. I knew only too well that swimming was not easy. It presented innumerable odds, and every odd was unmistakably against me. But if I were to think of survival, the latter course was the only hope. I decided to follow it.
So far my efforts to project the truth, had been unsuccessful. I failed to elicit any response from my letters I wrote to Smt. Indira Gandhi, Shri Charan Singh, General KVK Rao, the Chief of Army Staff and many other leading personalities of the country.
In a way I was in no doubt about the seriousness of allegations against me. After all `spying' is such a word that creates instant hate and hostility against the alleged person or accused in everyone's mind. It was the most powerful emotion that nullified my efforts. But I continued to move ahead sluggishly. I would brood for days in search of finding an answer for my unjust sufferings, from which I could see no escape.
Apparent injustice can only be explained by the theory of past Karma. But this philosophical outlook, a life force of a common India, too was of no avail. On the contrary it only added to the mental agony, I was destined to suffer for a considerably long period.
I suspected a hand of some senior army officers behind the disaster, a national betrayal, from the beginning itself. As enumerated in the last chapter. I had tried to pick up the scrambled threads and arranged them into a pattern. The story so formed was discernible, but it lacked the force of direct evidence. It was based on some facts and mostly conjuctures. I was looking for some positive evidence.
Then the story of Larkin brothers involved in spying hit the headlines. Maj. Gen. F.D. Larkin (Retd) alongwith his brother, an Air Vice Marshal (Retd), with many officers was arrested by the Special Branch of Delhi Police. He was passing on the secrets since 1972, it was reported. I was happy because I thought this case might provide a link to unravel the mystery of our case. I expected at least a few among the Larkins case suspects to be behind the creation of the Samba case. My expectations were not illogical. A retired General could not supply vital secrets of the army without the active connivance of serving officers. Such an officer had to be at least of his own rank, if not senior. I scanned daily every paper minutely, to find out the anticipated details, that never came. The Army Headquarters had closed the iron screen and thus protected the possible offenders within its own ranks. If F.D. Larkin was spying, how and from where had he obtained the secrets? Due to his retirement, he had no access to the vital information. He had retired from active service in 1971. Then who was or were the serving officers who had obliged him? It was a vital question and the people of this country had the right to know the answer. But it too had been consigned to the recess of unwritten pages of dark history.
In fact, I have read some recent history, which to me is simply a farce. I am a competent witness to the actual reality that was brutally mutilated, distorted, published, and made a "history". I am referring here to the 1971 Indo-Pak war.
Having taken an active part in the war, I am aware of the conduct of certain operations, particularly in what became Bangladesh. It is natural, who knows the reality, to distrust `history'. History lies. It only serves those in power. Because it is they who shape history - the written history as per their convenience that meets their political end. Putting it idiomatically; the written history is as good as the unwritten pages of dark history. Since it contains events of historical magnitude in the distorted form, it is misleading. That makes it worse. Napolean Bonaparte, the Great Emperor of France, history informs us, dies of failing health on 5 May 1821, in captivity at St. Helena Island.
But it does not say that he was slowly poisoned to death, by no one else than Montholon, his most trusted minister in attendence. Similarly, it had became history that the Indian officers of the Samba Brigade, enmasse,traded army secrets to Pakistan. That they were innocent victims of a deadly conspiracy and that they were tortured, insulted and humiliated and condemned to a living hell without the slightest evidence against them that they still were loyal to the army and the nation, would never be known. They were condemned to eternal ignominy. My struggle was to tear the pages of this written history and to recreate it as per the reality. But, for this I was powerless, resourceless and lacked direction. My petition filed in the Delhi High Court too, had been dismissed.
Shri B.M. Sinha, a journalist suspecting foul play, had investigated the entire case in detail. He wrote a book, `The Samba Spy case'. It was reviewed by a number of newspapers and magazines. Most of the reviews, as with the press earlier, cried foul play and demanded justice for the accused innocent. But the government remained a silent spectator, it was not prepared to disbelieve the false stories spun by Chief of the Army Staff. The book is a living testament of the army's atrocities, tortures and humiliations to its own loyal and patriotic members. But it is not history. At the most, it is a private history, that could also be consigned to wilderness with the passage of time. The thought of this, would put my soul on fire and that was the only weapon I had.
The long drawn hopeless struggle, was wearing off my soul. Its futility, because I was fighting against a power divorced of logic and reason, added to my inner tiredness. I would become pessimistic and would consider to give it up as a hopeless case. At such moments I would be saved from passing into oblivion, by a sudden surge of anger, released from the unknown depths of my being, with an impact, that would cause tremors, in my mind. I would be up with renewed determination. I sensed that my existence depended on the continuation of my fight for justice. To cease it, meant instant death. I could not live with the dishonour. Fight signified hope to retrieve it. And, there was hope in struggle, even if it was a hopelessly unmatched one. It certainly was quixotic.
I had tried all avenues and failed. I tried them again with identical results. My will began to sink. At this moment Ram Narain Kumar, of the famous melodramatic South Avenue Hostage case, entered my life and acted like an anchor to my drifting energy. A young lad of about 25 years, a social worker, he was fully committed to the cause of the neglected, exploited and down trodden. Though physically weak, his mind was exceptionally powerful. He was well read and he had in-depth knowledge. He could speak with authority on any subject ranging from, world history, literature, philosophy, religion and politics. He was intimate with the renowned world philosophers and their theories. In fact he himself was a top class intellectual and a philosopher - deeply concerned about the ills our society. Religion, he said, was the cause for the enslavement of the Indian Society. Its individualistic essence did not permit a man to think beyond himself. He suffers himself, but is oblivious of his neighbour's sufferings. This tendency is rooted in the Indian philosophy, a synthesis of the supreme wisdom of the Upanishads and the practice of lower forms of religions which over the ages, killed the spirit and retained only the form. Today, we are sticking to the spiritless form - long decayed. Perhaps the Upanishads contained the supreme truth. Unlike the Vedas, it stressed on single supreme power - God, and the relation between Him, Being and Non Being. When the thought percolated down to the masses, it was allowed to be distorted. Its purity was allowed to be defiled by dogmas. Possibly the decay started from there.
Our so called glorious past has greatly contributed to the degeneration of our character. We promptly go back to the past and dig out some outstanding achievement of our ancestors from the epics and mythology and rejoice over our failures. When we see or hear of development, and technological advancement of countries, we content ourselves by referring to our past, our ancestors achieved millennia before. Rejoicing thus, we have reached the nadir of decay. It has corrupted our mind and soul. We preach old values without adhering to them. The devay so caused has made us timid and brutalised our conscience. We readily commit heinous sins without a pinch of remorse. Under the cover of `Satyam Eva Jayate' which is our national motto, we perpetuate every type of falsehood, and yet try to look noble. Ram Narain Kumar believed in trying to rejuvenate the dying or already dead spirit of India. Bue he too had failed. Then to shock the conscience of people, he had held people hostage at the residence of Shri Dalbir, Singh an MP from Shadol constituency in MP Kumarji had been fighting for basic amenities, like drinking water and medical facilities for Jhaghrakhand coal mine workers.
I was not only impressed by him but his personality also influenced me. Much junior in age to me, he was way ahead in maturity and perception. The casual introduction to him turned into a bond that was to infuse me with fresh vigour and vitality.
He insisted I tell him my story. It took three nights, for me to relate the entire episode, including giving answers to his occasional questions. Doing so, I relived the agony. At the end I felt exhausted and utterly tired. He was the first person after Lt. Col. J.D. Desai, my defending officer at the trial, who had listened to my tales of woe with attention and concern. He too was convinced of my innocence and shocked at what I had to undergo. He asked me for a copy of the manuscript I had written and alongwith an interview he created out of our conversation, managed to smuggle it out of the jail, and finally out of India. He sent it to France, to Mr. Jean Ecalle, Kumar's friend and editor of `Indian Resurrection', a quarterly on Indian affairs.
I was immensely pleased to read a small review by the magazine, shown by Kumarji. It compared the work on par with the best of Russian dissident literature.
The interview with Kumarji and the radio version of my book, appeared in the magazine. This increased the number of people who were convinced of my innocence. I personally posted its copies to many dignitaries including the army Chief General K.V.K. Rao. Still there was no response. I became bitter and wrote two articles in a series; `The Pervasive wrongs' and `The leadership crises in the army'. I shot these darts to provoke the army command for retaliation. I thought if they did so, I may get an opportunity to be heard. They did not. Obviously, the darts had failed to pierce the rhinoceros hide.
I was deeply concerned about the education and future of my daughters. I wanted my wife and children to stay with my parents in the village. It was necessary, because I was penniless. Being in jail, I could not think of supporting them, when I myself needed support. The elder daughter, had been separated from her mother and sister. My bhabiji had taken her to Chandigarh for her studies. It became necessary to recall and to admit her to the village school. But she refused to study in that school. To make the child understand our adversity was impossible, without seriously affecting her psyche. At this point, my wife again rose to the occasion. She took a final decision, came to Delhi and stayed with my sister, who lived in Paharganj, in a two room house, with her large family. Though poor, she was rich in heart. She gave the smaller room to my wife.
I was happy to learn that within a short period of one month, she got both our daughters admitted to St. Anthony's Girls School, and had set up her home. She adjusted to the changed circumstances and learnt to live in them. For a living she gave tuitions. The meagre earnings were augmented by the help her brother gave. Living for her was, however, very difficult.
The fate, it looked, was working in an adverse direction ready to wipe out my family. My aged parents were unable to bear the shock. My father had taken to bed leaving everything to mother who was utterly alone at home. The shock of her only son being in prison finally took its toll. She died of a broken heart craving to see me till her last breath, on 7th June 1983. I was not destined to see her mortal remains consigned to fire. This event was to cause me permanent distress.
However, I drew a little satisfaction of having met her about five months before she expired. After many efforts I had been able to obtain parole in January 1983, on my father's medical grounds. Five years in custody had cast me in the mould of a captive for whom time ceases or at best retards the advance in the opposite direction. When I stepped out of the jail gate, I was terrified. For a few seconds I stood rooted to the ground, unable to move. I realised some terrible force was pulling me back to the jail. With great efforts I trudged forward and pulled myself out of the field of that unknown force. Once safe on the road, I found my body was trembling and sweating, even in the severe cold of the January night. It was an entirely unknown experience. It was weird. It never ever repeated during the subsequent paroles. I tried to search for its cause(s) but no theory could explain it satisfactorily. Though consciously I didn't care, perhaps my sub conscious mind contained the fear how would I be received by the people I knew, because of the stigma of a `traitor' attached to me. Was it then, the cause of inner terror? Maybe it was not. Because, many long term prisoners when released temporarily for the first time, on investigation, reported similar experiences. It fascinated me, and has remained a subject of interest ever since.
I was not overtly conscious of people, though I was keen to judge their feelings about the case. It was vital for my subsequent struggle. In the event of failure to obtain justice from the courts and the government, I had to go to people for it, as a last resort. To know the direction of their feeling was therefore, necessary.
This response, I found, was overwhelming. The news of my release spread quickly and people flocked to see me, hear me, feel me, and touch me, to make sure I was alive. They had heard the stories of the tortures given to me and read the news of my `death' published by certain papers, as supplied by army's `reliable sources'. Indeed it was due to shock, the outcome of such wild rumours and the taunts of a few neighbours, that had killed my mother's spirit a precursor, to her final departure. I learnt how, for hours she used to seep in a lonely place. It was only after she met me in Nagrota with my wife, that she returned to normalcy. The courage with which my wife faced the tragedy and fought to protect me, had restored my parents' morale. Her bold actions had also earned deep respect of people of the area. They called her Durga - the goddess, the killer of demons.
In the beginning, a few people, I learnt, had passed adverse comments about me. But a majority of them did not believe that I was a traitor. Subsequently no one doubted my innocence. Even layment in the area knew I was a victim of the frame - up. They were keen to help, but did not know how to do that.
When my parole was ending, mother fell sick. My wife had left for Delhi with the children because of their school. I was alone at home. Hence I got the opportunity to serve her. I would sit beside her talking, oiling and combing her hair, or pressing her body. She would stare at me with motherly affection for long periods and then burst into tears. On such occasions I would take her in my arms and hug her close to my heart, kissing her head, while giving her encouragement about the positive outcome of the case, which was her greatest concern.
I cannot forget the scene when I left for Delhi. She had come a long way, despite my obecting, to see me off. At the time of my departure, she stood looking at me. I could not bear that look. I would come back and placing my head at her bosom, ask her to go. But she did not. I had to concede defeat and leave her. Did she know by some inner power that we would never see each other again? Her last look would keep hounding me till the end of my life.
My wife who had lived in comfort all along her life till struck by the tragedy, I found was living in sub human miserable conditions, and that oo, at the mercy of my kind sister. She got up at 4.30 am. Her day started with standing in queue for milk, getting the children ready for school, preparing breakfast for them, leaving them at school, fetching water from a public tap meant for more than a hundred families and washing clothes. By the time she finished preparing lunch, it was time to bring the children back from school. In the afternoon and evening she gave tuitions to earn whatever little she could. She had no time for rest. To discharge her dual responsibility, she had become like a machine. She was simply consuming herself. This pained and worried me. But beyond this I could not do much. I had no means to salvage her. But courageously, boldly and with single minded devotion she had in the storm that blew, saved the boat from its inevitable disintegration and steered it clear from the centre of a vortex. She had almost brought it to the shore, when exhaustion over took her. She became a patient of TB.
During parole, I made personal contact with many people who believed in my innocence. They all were sympathetic. But beyond that, they too were powerless to change the course of events. A few of them, however, came out with the suggestion, asking me to leave the country with my family. they offered their help to take me out and settle me anywhere I wanted. The lure of free life looked sweet. The prospect of living with my family and to provide them with their wants was overpowering. To go back to the prison meant stagnation and decay of my own and my family's life. It meant bleak existence full of hardships devoid of hope. I was split between two thoughts. To choose between freedom outside the country and slavery within it. The decision was difficult to make. The thought of leaving my country, snapping all links with it, choked my soul. Beside, the perpetrators in the army would seize the occasion, if I left, to further discredit me. My disappearance would confirm that indeed I was a traitor. It was precisely for these two reasons that I chose the latter course and surrendered to the jail authorities, after the expiry of my parole.
The life in jail was dark and cheerless. I felt caught in the centripetal force of intertia that threatened to swallow up the very existence. The expanse of inaction was terrifying. It was, therefore necessary to find ways and means to overcome that situation, if only to prevent disintegration of the self. It was essential to protect and maintain my identity. Here too, that young revolutionary, Kumar come to my rescue. He gave me a base to carve my new self. "Share others sufferings" he said, "your own will then turn into joy. Happiness lies in movement and struggle. It is the essence of the life". He taught that fighting against odds in the unhappiest circumstances is the true happiness - that is joy. What he said was not from books. It was from his personal experience of life, devoted wholly to the betterment of the poor, crushed under the weight of neglect in our so called egalitarian society. He struggled and suffered, for restoration and protection of fundamental human values. Being an active member of the JP movement, he suffered in jail for raising his voice against the emergency, for 18 months. If he wanted, he could have become a minister or an MP during the Janata regime. But he shunned politics willingly, knowing the evil power of its corruptible nature. He fought against the intertia and wrongs committed by Janata Government also. And he was suffering to improve the lives of Jhagrakhand coal mine workers. He struggled and suffered without expecting any reward. His selfless sufferings, raised him in my eyes as a revolutionary, saint and a soldier.
In jail too, he fought for the rights of parisoners. His fight brought far reaching reforms. The juveniles, who were exploited, physically abused and raped by hardened criminals in connivance with the jail staff, were in particular, its benefactors. He became their messiah. I tried to provide him with whatever little help I could. I took to teaching the juveniles. I must confess, that it became a solace of my tormented soul. It diverted my thoughts and saved me from becoming a victim of self pity due to repeated failure of my own struggle for search of justice and truth. I discovered, that though for people I was teaching the juvenile prisoners, in reality I had begun to learn seeing new light and finding different meanings for things.
Old concepts were slowly falling or undergoing a subtle change due to the interaction caused by the new circumstances in life. Change is not always pleasant. The values learnt from childhood, become a part of one's personality. In fact, they assume the role of self and the very identity of a person. Hence, the change signifies the destruction of that self. This change even for the better, means pain and sadness. At times I would become very sad and forlorn, looking at this vast world, as if from a distance, reeling under purposeless madness. the inner conflict gave rise to two distinct but opposing emotions that stablised into strong feelings of extreme hate and detachment. I found myself split between these two giants. I was terribly wronged. This awareness put my hurt ego into the advance guard of my thoughts, leading into an area of consciousness where every atom of my personality became thirsty for revenge. I could easily achieve it. The jail was the best place to plan. The deadly criminals, vicious murderers and dacoit gangs were ready to call my biddings. I was liked by all of them. Many of them, infact, seriously advised me to take such a course and offered their help. Many times I was tempted to take the plunge. I was aware that with the background of my knowledge I could organise a deadly composite force, plan operations and paralyse the system. I could get my tormentors and their families, kidnapped, tortured and killed. Only then the goddess of vengeance would be propitiated. Indeed this feeling of retribution was born during the period I spent in solitary confinement. But then, it was only in the abstract. In jail, I had the facilities and resources to change it to reality. The emotion would then calm down giving place to detachment. I would start seeing the futility about the madness of this world. Is it necessary for me to be part of the evil because I was evilly treated? Would I not became a part, of the forces that I hated, if I took revenge? Even if I was able to propitiate the goddess of revenge, will it give me peace of mind? `No' was always the answer to these questions that prevented me to take the first course.
I had no option but to continue the battle by legal means and wait for the opportunity; my inner voice told, the nature would provide sooner or later. This wait in itself was a terrible agony. Hence my struggle was chiefly to overcome it.
But let me admit in the army all was not lost. There were some good people also. One of them was Colonel Ashok Bhan, incharge of the Army Welfare Association under Adjutant General Branch and also the Adjutant General himself, Lt. General Cheema. They came to the rescue of my family. They not only gave her financial help but got my daughters admitted in to the Army Public School. It is due to them that my daughters' education could be completed. Beside my wife was also given a knitting machine to enable her earn with dignity. And in the year 1989, when I had practically undergone the entire sentence, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the President was pleased in the changed circumstances of the case, to sanction me half of my retiring benefits. This too, I attribute to the AG's Branch efforts. At least indirectly they had accepted my innocence and did whatever they could within their means.
Then in January, 1985, a small news appeared in Punjab Kesari, a Hindi Paper, electrified me. Gnr Aya Singh, the `patriot' of the army, had been arrested for spying for Pakistan. It was insignificant for people. Because the case of infamous Coomer Narain spy network broke out at the same time and appeared on the front pages of every newspaper for weeks. All accused in this case were very close to the seat of national power. It shook the nation. Shri P.C. Alexander had to resign because his personal secretary T.N. Kher was one of the accused. Hence the news of Aya Singh's arrest was totally overshadowed even when the national dailies taking a lead from Punjab Kesari, front paged the news on 02 Feb 1985. But his arrest had presented me with the opportunity I was looking for, for the last many years. I was overwhelmed with happiness. My stand taken at the court martial had been vindicated. Aya Singh was a Pakistan trusted agent and the chief protagonist in the conspiracy. Here was the missing link of the chain of conspiracy - the key to solve the riddle. The news galvanised me into action. Suddenly there was so much to do. It practically paralysed me. Confused, I did not know where to start. Shri R.T.L. D'souza, the then Dy. Supdt. who was liked by the prisoners for his love, honesty and sincerity, extended his valuable help. Being a law graduate, he undertook the task of drafting a petition for me. I gave him whatever little papers I had with me, that pertained to the case. On his advise, I wrote many letters to various people. Similarly the than chief of Central Jail Tihar, Mr. A.B. Shukla, the best and ablest Superintendent who had for the first time initiated many reforms in jail, rendered me every possible help, to project the truth.
Shri V.K. Kaul, the then Deputy Director, Intelligence Bureau, had conducted the inquiry into the case in 1979 and submitted his findings to the government. Though his report was not made known, it was clear it had vindicated the Samba accused and termed the case of Military Intelligence, a myth incapable of belief.
I inquired and found out that he had been transferred to Rajasthan, his parent cadre, where he was serving as the Inspector General of Police. I sent him a letter reminding him about the gravity of the case that impinged directly on the safety, interest of the nation and its security. I requested him to extend his help so that the interrogation of Aya Singh could bring out the truth of the case. I sent a copy of this letter to the Director Intelligence Bureau. The Director IB, I learnt from most reliable sources, had referred the matter to the Central Government seeking necessary directions to pursue the case afresh. But no directions came from that quarter surprisingly, even when Madam Gandhi had asked the Minister of Defence to reopen the case.
Aya Singh was back to his old tricks. As per the newspapers he had named a score of Indian army officers as his accomplices, and the army had taken them into its custody for interrogation. How could any one become Aya Singh's accomplice, let alone officers, after he had been exposed! No doubt he was a trained agent of the Pak FIU, who had successful destroyed what the entire Pak army could not possibly do collectively, the entire Samba Brigade by virtually implicating each of its officers and further in sowing the seeds of suspicion amongst its other members. To believe him now, was simply absurd and ridiculous, but the news about the arrest of officers and their interrogation indicated the army's belief in him.
I had suffered tortures, disgrace and humiliation. It was painful I was trying to heal the wounds caused by consoling the soul, that I was a sacrifice for the nation, even if the manner was a disgraceful one. Similar sacrifices were again in the offing! The great patriot was naming another set of army officers, possibly to clear his conscience!
If my experience was any teacher, I had no illusions about the army's simplicity and naivete. It had amply been demonstrated, by its planning to arrest me and by the subsequent events. Aya Singh, a gunner, the lowest rank of army, took it for a mighty ride. Its top brains had failed to detect his ulterior designs in our case. The same brains appeard to have fallen once again in the trap laid down by the gunner.
I wanted that the army officers must not be arrested on the disclosures of Aya Singh. But how could I stop that from prison? So I decided and wrote a letter to General A.S. Vaidya, the Army Chief, pointing at the danger of indiscriminate arrests and requesting him not to play, like General Malhotra the then Chief did, with the honour of officers and to not let them be disgraced by the likes of Aya Singh.
With his arrest, a new dimension had been cast on one of the most shameful episode in the history of the Indian army. A pertinent question has been raised: How was it that the Pakistan Intelligence had recruited an agent, who had allegedly exposed its biggest spying ring? He was pardoned. He gave evidence in several court martials against Indian army officers, and men accused of spying for Pakistan. A person who had totally decimated the Pak Intelligence services in India would be absolutely persona-non-grata in Pakistan. The Pakistan Intelligence would not touch such a person with even a barge pole.
But the fact demonstrated by his arrest clearly indicated the Pak FIU's continued trust in Aya Singh and Sarwan Dass. The former was under arrest and it was necessary to find out the truth from him. He was one person who could throw light on several unanswered questions related to the Samba Case. To find out the truth from Aya Singh, was not only important to me and other victims, but it was vital for the security of whole nation.
In my series of letters to the Army Chief I warned him of the danger of taking Aya Singh lightly and apprised him of the fall out of such a course and sought an interview with him.
The moral imperative of my claim, I wrote, far transcends the mundane issue of protocol and formal procedure. It is the light of truth that has kept me alive for all these years. So far I have carried the burden of disgrace and sufferings in silence, but I cannot and will not do so now" I further wrote, "all I seek is the truth and as a soldier trained in the finest tradition of army, I will continue to fight for it".
My whole energy was focussed to some how make authorities realise the blunder and make them correct it. I wrote a similar letter to Shri Rajiv Gandhi, the Prime Minister.
Meanwhile I had smuggled out a copy of my letter to General Vaidya to the Times of India, newspaper. I learnt the board of editors of that paper were apprehensive, but reluctantly gave its clearances. The contents of the letter was then front paged in its Feb 7, 1985, issue. Initially the management was afraid of the army's reaction. It waited for two days, and found none. emboldened, a reporter named Rattan Mal was deputed to investigate and follow-up the matter further.
With Aya's arrest the logic and reason had heavily swung in favour of my stand, though putting the army and the government at an adverse situation. Still, it was also an opportunity for both to show moral courage and demonstrate to the nation the firmness of dealing with falsehood boldly. I did not ask that I be released at once. I was asking to open the case and evaluate the possibility of conspiracy in the light of changed circumstances because of the fresh dimension created by Aya's arrest. If a sib had been committed unconsciously, it was only natural to wash it by opening the case and finding out the exact truth. No stigma would attach to authorities for taking such a course. On the contrary, it would enhance the esteem of people for the army and government.
Thus, I hoped the army would break its silence and take corrective steps. I expected those treacherous and guilty to be picked up and shown me the daylight. Unfortunately I received no response to my letters from the Army Chief and the Prime Minister. Was it due to fear of the loss of face, or was there something more sinister, the inquiry would reveal, which was more fearsome than the simple loss of face!! What was it?
Having failed to obtain response, and seeing the continued silence and indifference of the government, I shifted my attention to the petition being prepared by Shri D'Souza. It was not an easy task. I was not given a copy of the trial proceedings by the authorities. So much so, a copy of the Summary of Evidence had also been illegally withdrawn from me soom after the trial was over. It was of great importance, because it contained the only evidence, on which charges against me were framed; in the form of Aya's statement implicating me in the spying.
I was, however able to recreate the sequence of events relating to case from memory, and a few letters. The chief help came from the closing address. I had its copy prepared by Shri R.P. Sethi, my defence counsel at the trial. Thus equipped with material though scanty, we were able to prepare a petition over a period of about two months. The major omissions and violations of the Army and Civil Laws were incorporated. Giving a brief history of the case that led to my conviction, stress was laid on the stand I took 7 years ago at my trial warning the members of the Court Martial about Aya Singh, the principal and the star prosecution witness, being a decoy in the hands of his Pak masters, whom he still served by misleading the Military intelligence. He had falsely implicated scores of innocent and loyal officers in espionage for definite gains: "Today", I said in the peition, "the tide has turned and it brings to shore the truth of this country's motto: `Satyam Eva Jayate' from the Muduka Upanished."
The purpose of infiltration and espionage by the enemy is to subvert the Constitution, to try and gain complete control of the State, or to create disorder in justice and similar circumstances to weaken it so as to take over control subsequently. For such a purpose moles are planted in various departments by an interested power. The highly vulnerable in this regard are intelligence services. Vital informative can be gathered by infiltrating into the intelligence network. Gnr Aya, who implicated the army officers, was a self confessed spy, serving Pak FIU, whose purpose was to infiltrate into Military intelligence and cause discord.
The past history gave enough knowledge of such tactics played by hostile countries, subversive elements were infiltrated into the armed forces and ministers of countries like Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Yugoslavia. These countries lost their freedom due of subversive elements inducted by hostile power (opinion cited: International Relations by Palmer and Perkins, 3rd Indian edition) More recently, Afghanistan and Cambodia lost their freedom. Such elements participated in "popular front" governments and also joined other democratic parties, only to destroy them. They ensured that persons loyal only to them occupied most of the important posts in thearmed forces and the police. With the help of these two instruments, they took over the state machinery. The opposition was intimidated and gradually liquidated. War crimes and treason trials became vehicle for public "confessions" extracted by methods which combined mediaeval tortures with the diabolic application of modern techniques to break the human mind and spirit.
Use of powers absolute, unchecked and unrestrained in nature given to the army through Parliament by Article 33 of the Constitution, restricting the fundamental rights of army personnel, though necessary to ensure discipline and proper discharge of duties, essentially opens vast evenues for interested elements like gunner Aya Singh and his `protectors' to infiltrate army with the sole object of creating unfavourable circumstances. The aim of powers employing such elements could be much worse for the overall interest of the nation.
This theory, in my case, was not without substance. It was, therefore, very necessary to scrutinise the use of such powrs if only to avoid the inherent danger to the Republic. I made this point in the petition. the prayers to the court was to strictly construe Article 33 for the purpose, to ensure proper discipline and discharge of duties. For this, it was necessary to scrutinise the functioning and orders of the Court Martial, affecting military justice by the courts of law. The law relating to the armed forces must be in consonance with the general law of this country. The restriction imposed by means of Article 33 of the Constitution must be reasonable. The connection between the restriction and the object of Article 33 i.e. discipline in the armed forces must be proximate and direct.
The courts ought to develop law of military justice so as to make it more just, fair and equitable. Lord Denning in case, Candler versus Christmas (1951 2 KB 164) remarked: "Even if you do get Parliament to pass statute, you will still have many of the same problems. I hope the judges of the future will do as the judges used to do in the past. They should develop the law according to the needs of the times, They should be among the bold spirits. They should not be timorous souls feebly saying. `It is for Parliament, not for us'".
In India also the various High Courts and the Supreme Court had on a number of occasions felt the need to change the outdated and outmoded Army Act and expressed their desire to make it more humane. Of course, the government or the Parliament took no steps in that direction. Army, for them as Shri B.M. Sinha said, is a sacred cow. No one dare touch the army for the fear of defiling it.
The petition was shown to Shri Danial Latifi Senior Advocate of Supreme Court who had earlier filed and argued the habeas corpus petition of my wife. On his advice a Special Leave Petition against the order of Delhi High Court dismissing the earlier petition in limini was also prepared. It was in a skeleton form praying inter alia, that it be heard as part of the main petition that contained the main grounds. The petition with the SLP was filed on April 20, 1985. A prayer was made that Shri Danial Latifi and Major R.S. Murgai, Advocates be appointed as amicus curie. In August 1985 I met the Deputy Registrar of the Supreme Court, in custody and requested him to appoint only those advocates who were named in the petition, as they had the background knowledge of the case. On his assurance I sat content. But the case had not been listed for hearing till Jan 1986.
During my one month parole, granted in Jan 86, I went and again met the Deputy Registrar to find out the cause of delay. I found that in place of Maj. R.S. Murgai, Shri Qammarudin advocate had been appointed as the AC (Amicus Curie). The case had still not been listed. I was alarmed at the unexpected appointment. not that I doubted his professional ability but Shri Qammarudin was ignorant of the case and was least expected to do justice to it. I was angry. The Dy. Registrar summoned the case file. I found that he had, in keeping with the assurance, he gave me six months earlier, approved the appointment of Maj. RS Murgai and Daniel Latifi. Thus how and why Qammarudin was appointed the AC! Finally after lengthy discussion the matter was resolved. Maj. RS Murgai was to be the AC. Later an official letter was released informing Murgai of the appointment. A copy of the letter was also given to me.
The official information of Murgai's appointment as AC relieved me of the mental pressure and I felt relaxed.
In the meantime the press once again picked up the case, it was "Week End Review", a weekly of the Hindustan Group of Publications, that came out with a lead story on the case, carrying my letter in full, which had earlier been published in the Times of India, in its February 24, 1985 issue, followed by The Week, another weekly. The Surya India carried an article under the caption "The spy who tripped" saying the Samba case wont die! in its May 85 issue.
Sometimes in Jun / July 1985, Shri Rajinder Puri (Rap) one of the erstwhile General Secretaries of the Janata Party and a leading Journalist came inside Jail for an offence of inciting the Jhuggi Jhopari dwellers to occupy some DDA house forcibly. Though not met I had known him through R N Kumar. The meeting was a strange event. One evening I came out of cell and found, a number of prisoners mostly `Torries's - a slang used for `Dada' of jail - were making an introduction with a new prisoner. Now introduction in the jail means ragging that involves physical manhandling and even beating. on an impulse I went and intervenced and was able to save him the possible humiliation. On learning who he was I brought him to my cell and tried to make him comfortable. He had heard about me and the case but casually. He did not know the details of the case. I explained him the case and answered all his questions. Once released, he wrote a personal letter to Shri Rajiv Gandhi. "With all the influence at my command," he wrote, "I request you to order the case to be reopened."
He also sent Coomi Kapur a well known lady journalist who interviewed me in the jail. She filed a powerful story in the Sunday Mail, in its inaugural issue Jan 26, 1986 under the caption "The Samba Spy Hoax". She compared the case with Dreyfus'. It also carried an interview with Shri B.M. Sinha, the author of the book "Samba Spy Case! Ritu Sareen, from the `Sunday' had also taken my interview which was published in one of its December 1985 issues.
In January 1986, when I was out on parole, I received a letter from Nikhil Laxman, feature editor of the Illustrated Weekly, requesting for an interview. I showed it to Dibang a free lance journalist, who used to come to jail in search of stories. He had interviewed Charles Sobhraj and had written a lot about him. He was fully aware of my case also. One of his colleagues, Ms. Mayuri Chawla another free lance journalist had taken my interview for the Frontline. In fact that was her joint venture.
Seeing the letter, he became very keen to write about me. He spoke to Nikhil and took the clearance for filing a detailed interview. He tried his very best in the matter. Having spoken to me afresh and getting the story straight from my side, he went to take the army version. For this he spoke to the Director of Military intelligence, who asked him to speak to the Defence Secretary. The Defence Secretary asked him to establish his credential which he did by producing a letter from the editor authorising him to conduct the interview. He was kept shuffling between the Ministry of Defence and the Army HQ. He drew a blank. No one spoke to him in the matter. The army and the government remained silent.
General K. Chiman Singh and Gen. SL Malhotra, the then GOC 16 Corps and GOC 26 Infantry Division, were the two known officers who had cautioned against the indiscriminate arrests. They had toward the end of case put down their foot and refused to toe the Army HQ. line blindly. It was General K. Chiman Singh with whom I had a lengthy interview and who had advised me to submit the points I explained to him in writing. With Gen. Malhotra my wife had an interview. He had himself expressed his apprehension when he had said: "Mrs. Rathaur, I don't know what is coming to this army. I have lost confidence in myself."
K. Chiman Singh had recently retired from Army as the Army Commander Eastern Command. malhotra was still in the army, and in Delhi, posted as Director N.C.C.
On a tip Dibang contacted Malhotra and spoke to him on phone. Dibang had taped the conversation. The gist of his conversation was that the entire was a fraud. But he was not permitted to speak officially. He would surely speak in the matter once retired. He suggested, Dibang should talk to Gen. K. Chiman Singh who was retired and settled at Saket in Delhi.
On the last day he was to file the report Dibang traced K Chiman Singh at the latter's residence. He spoke abou the nature of the case in detail and that how the Army HQ. had been taken for a big ride. He had also spoken about me.
"I know Capt. Rathaur, he was a fine officer I had a lengthy interview with him. He is totally innocent. His only offence is that he did not have any Godfather,". But he too shied away from being quoted.
The interview was carried as a cover story. Under the caption to "Hell and Back" in the March 3, 1986 issue of the weekly. It called the case a `witch-hunt'.
The date for hearing of my case was fixed. It was March 31, 1986. One month parole granted was to expire on 14th Feb 14, 1986. I had applied for extension on the grounds that the Advocate had to be briefed. Since copy of the trial proceedings had been denied to me, the same were required to be inspected with my advocate for which permission had been asked. Till Feb 13, no reply had been received. So I decided and spoke to the Adjutant General on phone. I contacted him the next day he was pleased to extend the parole by ten days. The permission to inspect the proceedings was granted and we inspected them. Murgai noted all the procedural violations and found the DJAG had failed in his duty, as he is the only legal expert, to advise the court correctly on matters pertaining to the violations of law committed by the prosecution. He was pleasantly shocked at the manner in which the entire case was handled. `Pleasantly', because he became confident to win the case.
Murgai took an entirely different plea. The trial was vitiated due to lack, or absence or wrong advice given by the DJAG, amounting to misdirections to the court, culminating in a wrong, decision by the latter, thereby causing miscarriage of Justice.
Once convinced of my innocence Maj. R.S. Murgai spared no efforts to prepare the case. In fact he practically abandoned all other cases and devoted full time to my case. `Aya Singh, he maintained, was a double spy twice crossed.
On March 10, 1986, I received a letter in jail from Supreme Court. It stunned me. "Your SLP came up for hearing on Feb 10, 1986 and was dismissed. Shri Qammarudin had appeared as the AC on my behalf! The foul trick had been played but by whom ? It was difficult to resolve the matter. I had prayed for the SLP to be heard as part of the main petition that alone contained the main points. Why was then it isolated from the main petition and heard?
I had been assured by the Registrar concerned in writing for dropping Shri Qammarudin as AC. In fact in his place Maj. Murgai, fully up-to-day with the case had been appointed. Something had gone amiss. The case had been torpedoed. I, however, did not attach much importance to its significance which was only to become visible on the date of hearing of the main petition.
Maj. Murgai was able to procure affidavits of six officers involved in the case and later dismissed from the service. In essence all of them contained the same theme: All rules and regulations were fiagrantly violated. None of them were given the charge before arresting them. The authorities arresting themselves did not know what the charges were. They were kept in subhuman conditions. Their next to kin were kept in dark about their arrest for months, and a large number of the arrested officers was among those, who had criticised the case of the military intelligence, or who had refused to cow down to the illegal pressure. But the affidavits of Maj. Midha and Maj. Subhash Juneja disclosed certain details, that were to become vital for me to complete the picture latter on.
Maj. Midha's affidavit disclosed the extraordinary and illegal interest shown by Brigadier T.S. Grewal, who was the officer incharge security Pakistan. It was under him that the case was fabricated, planned and executed - Most important was the revelation made by Maj. Subhash Juneja in his affidavit Gnr. Aya Singh had named certain persons of the army, who were arrested and interrogated by a team of intelligence officers headed by Major SC Jolly and Capt. Sudhir. During interrogations, the accused had "confessed" indicating a chain of `probable spies'. Having approved the confessions the 16 Corps sent them to the Northern Command for action. But the Army Commander disbelieved them. He ordered fresh investigations. For this Maj. Subhash Juneja with another officer, trained in interrogation, were appointed for the job. After getting the facts through detailed interrogations the new team arrived at a conclusion. The confessions obtained by jolly and party were false and had no relation or relevance to the reality. The only base of the "confessions" was the insensible torture. This made Maj. Jolly and party a suspect.
Surprisingly the Col. T.S. Grewal and Col. V.K. Gupta - Colonel Intelligence HQ. Northern Command rejected the report. The accused were tried on the basis of their confessional statements obtained earlier. It was in one of these trials that Maj. N.R. Ajwani, in the capacity of DJAG had passed strictures against Maj. Jolly and team. As a result Major Subhash Juneja and Ajwani found themselves involved in the same case.
This piece of evidence was vital to uncover the shroud in which the case was clothed.
Having prepared the case from his angle Major Murgai visited me in jail to show it to me. I was more than satisfied with the job done. He however, became concerned when I told him about the fate of my SLP. He expressed his fear that some juggling was on in the Supreme Court Registry to frustrate the efforts of bringing the truth of light. But at the same time he was convinced of the break through.
Dibang, on the other hand, was trying his best to gain support of the Press and other organisations like the PUCL (Peoples Union for Civil Liberties). In fact, he took me and Major Ajwani to Shri Inder Malhotra, President of the PUCL Delhi wing. The object of the meeting was to make a public litigation petition filed simultaneously, through such an organisation.
Every thing was going smooth when suddenly fate struck. Charles Sobhraj, the known international criminal and my jail friend winged his way through the jail main gate, taking six prisoners with him by putting the jail security staff to a temporary sleep. It was on March 16, 1986. The escape stunned the nation and pulverised the jail administration. Charles had done the unbelievable. Everywhere, everyone was raising accusing fingers., The entire police of the country was on the chase. But Sobhraj seemed to have vanished in this air. At the same time he had put many people in the dock. Dibang became one of the suspects. For he was intime with Charles. Dibang had written about Charles. He had also helped get Charles' stories published, in other magazines. In fact he had visited Charles on March 14, 1986. Dibang wanted his promise to give an interview to Nikhil Laxman who had come to Delhi for the purpose. The meeting was fixed. It was for the day, Charles was to play his trump card.
On March 17, 1986, Dibang came with Nikhil laxman. Following the escape all interviews inside the `deori' had been stopped. So I met them through the jungla.
Nothing much could be talked across the fence over the babel of voices in the jungla. I gave him copies of my letters I had written to Prime Minister, and his principal secretary - Ayanger. Nikhil had kindly consented to hand them over personally, which he did.
Dibang wrote a cover story on Charles' escape. It was appreciated allover as the best piece of journalism. It also was the first to appear in any magazine. He was already being shadowed by the crime branch, and as the story on Charles appeared in the magazine, he was picked up for interrogation. That was the end. All efforts made by him were washed off. He was an accused himself. Even the best of his friends avoided him. It affected my case adversely.
In the jail I had known Charles since 1980. In due course we had become friends. He helped my family financially, was a fact, commonly known. Besides he wanted me to sign a contract for getting this book published. A copy of the manuscript and the unsigned contract was seized by the Crime Branch, with his other belongings. I too was questioned like Dibang and his other close associates, I had no inkling about his impending escape, Hence I could give the police nothing. Charles had written the address of my wife in his diary he left behind. A team of them went and questioned my wife also. If the police thought it a lead, then it only wasted the time and resources.
I was also questioned by Shri Lakhra, the officer who headed the inquiry to find out the circumstances leading to escape and to fix responsibility.
It was Sunday when I was called to Shri Sommal, the Superintendent's office. The other person sitting with him was Shri Lakhara. He said "You are Capt. Rathaur,". It was more a statement than a question. "Yes, I am," I replied.
I am told, Charles used to give you money. Is it correct?" He asked.
"Yes, he used to." I replied.
"Tell me, Rathaur, you didn't know it was bad money?" He further asked.
To me it appeared an irrelevant and a stupid question. I knew who he was. But still I looked at him straight and said, "before I answer this question, may I know with whom I am speaking?"
Lakhra was put off. He looked confused and looked at the Supdt. Sommal smiled and told him "Sir, he is wanting to know your identity," Then addressing me he said, "Capt., he is Mr. Lakhra inquiring into the escape case".
"Yes, yes Capt. I am Lakhra," he said while recovering from the shock. Possibly he had never imagined a prisoner could ask him in the manner I did.
"Well, Mr. Lakhra, let me tell you that money is never bad. It is only the source or the manner of acquiring it which is bad. Charles was my friend in the jail. I was not concerned what he did in the past. And, I knew his cource of money. It was the royalty from his two books and the articles he wrote, or the interviews he gave to the press. Thus, there was no question of it being bad money. But, let me tell you, say even if the money was bad, I could not decline the help. The reason for doing so is clearly stated in the article from where you learnt Charles giving me financial help. People like me who have been treated callously, unjustly and reduced to a stage where they find the mere survival impossible, have no consideration for the type of morals you are trying to impose on me. Let me make it clear further. You surely have read my story had the injustice meted out to me, by the so called `upright' and `moral' people. You never thought to remind them of their morality. May be you thought they are powerful. Instead you are teaching me morality because I am weak, defenceless and utterly helpless. Is it your morality? ... Listen Mr. Lakhra. Charles saved my family, by giving me financial help, from the impending ruins, when your moral world cast me away. Whatever, he is to you, for me he is a person capable of tender emotions. Yes, I never thought and will never think, the money he gave me was bad", I spoke with charged emotion. Mr. Lakhra did not say anything. He remained silent for sometime, and then asked me if I could give my statement in writing. I agreed and did so. When he finally submitted the report, I was amused to read it. My name was there, suggesting though indirectly, that Charles helped me, and I must have helped him in influencing the officers in his favour. It surely was a fantastic piece of imagination, that undermined the wits, cleverness and Charless' capability of being the century's smartest operator. Certainly he did not need anyone's help to do so insignificant a thing as influencing officials. That he had done the world over singly, and escaped from every jail.
March 31, 1986, was a crucial day. The case was listed for hearing. I passed the whole day between hopes and despairs without news. I asked D'Souza and rang up Maj. Murgai. I had fixed my eyes on his find out the result that would be clear from the change of colour on his face. The colour had changed. I braced up myself to hear the word "dismiss". It is very bad news Capt.', he spoke with heavy heart. I thought the petition was dismissed and waited for him to speak.
"He is dead.. Maj. Murgai died in the court" he informed. It was unexpected. The news hit me with a tremendous force. In him I had lost one of my best friends and the best counsel. Back in my cell, I cried in silence. For many nights I could not sleep well.
I learnt the next day from newspapers, that the report had been filed declaring the case "hit by res judicata". But Murgai had argued at length on the importance of the case and to evaluate the new evidence, he had collected in the form of affidavits of six officers. Mr. Justice `O' Chinnappa Reddy became inclined to hear the case and gave April 14, 1986 for its bearing and admission.
Murgai, had made a break through, by taking a date, cutting through the snag of res judicata. He was overjoyed. He declared to his colleagues, he had won the case. But the joy proved extremely costly. He was a heart patient. The unexpected happiness caused a massive heart attack that took his life. He died in the court premises. His death eclipsed my case. The hearing was deferred to April 28, 1986. That was also the end of it. Shri Danial Latifi argued the case. But the judges said, it was not a fit case to call for records and reopening the entire case. The petition was dismissed.
It was another shock. Though I had become used to them, it certainly was a great setback.
I knew it was the end. There was no remedy. Yet I did not give up. I kept on the struggle. Back in jail I prepared and sent a review petition, This too was dismissed.
Simultaneously I sent a letter to Gen. K. Sunderji also and released it copy to the press. It was published in the Illustrated Weekly as open letter under the caption "Je'Accuse'". This also brought unprecedented response from the public including some army officers. But not from the Chief. Then in exasperation I wrote a letter to the editor making grievous and terrible allegations.
Meanwhle, on 23.7.86 Major Mohan of 3 Engineers came and met me in jail. He came after reading my story. He said when serving officer had come to meet, I should consider myself exonerated. Obviously I felt very happy and enquired about the reaction of the army officers to my letter and the story that appeared in the Illustrated weekly. He looked pensive and said it was just "an apple polish".
This was an entirely new term for me. I asked him to explain what he meant by "apple polish".
"No one bothers", he explained "If you think you have thrown a bomb you are mistaken."
Through the iron meshing, I looked straight in his eyes. I suspected something was wrong. He may be Major Mohan but he was not an Engineer come to brigade my fate but to torpedo it. His remark instantly put me on guard.
"Then why have you come if there is as you say, no reaction?" I shot at him. His reply was unconvincing. I knew who he was! Then on purpose I spoke against the army adding that I did not care if there was no reaction in the army, because where it mattered the things were on fire.
"Do you know, Major, "I informed him, "I am getting immense response from the people and organisations. By the way it also include the army officers". He insisted I tell him the names of such officers, so that by writing to them, a group could be formed to take up my case with authorities. He had given away himself, yet he wanted me to tell him the name of officers! Within myself I laughed at the working of military intelligence.
Seeing me raving that I did on purpose, he could not contain himself. "Rathaur", he said, "without knowing properly who am I, you are talking too much." I smiled and said, "Major Mohan You introduced me as a soldier. Being a soldier I believed in what you said. I spoke what I feel is correct. As for who you could be, is of little significance to me. I have nothing to hide. I am clean. My issue is already before the people. So why should I bother."
Possibily he had realised his mistake. To correct that he too, smiled and said, "What I mean, I would be in a position to help you. I may be a capable person". To probe further, I said, "Let me be frank, Maj. Mohan. I don't know your capabilities unless you specify."
"Well, I can act as you liaison officer - between you and the press or if you wish I would go to any minister whom you know," he specified. I thanked him for his proposed help. He gave me two large mangoes and left with a promise to come again.
Back in the cell I analysed the purpose of the visits. It was clear he was sent to spy on my activities and moves and to find out my contacts who helped me in my struggle. The guess was simple. No army officer would have the courage to come and meet me at a time when I was attacking the army relentlessly and exposing the injustice through press. Those army officers who wrote me under headings like "brother officer in uniform", "An officer who trusts your innocence, or "yours sincerely in uniform" etc. No one disclosed his name. But here was Major Mohan, not only come to meet me but ready to take my messages to the press and my other friends! Then if there was no reaction, as he said, why had he alone reacted. I decided to feed him all that was crap once he came on his second visit. I knew he would. And he did. It was on August 6, 86. He had been to the house where my wife lived. He showed his distress at her condition. Surprisingly, this time, his tone was a changed one. He exhorted me to continue the struggle and refuse even if offered reprieve. Then quite suddenly he asked how was my wife managing. I informed him, on tuitions, and charity of others. Then explained to him in detail, the help Charles Shobhraj gave me.
During his next visit he, brought food for me and sought my permission to invite my wife and daughters over lunch. I thought about it and consented :
Due to some misunderstandings with the Jail Administration, I was transferred to Jail No, 2 upon the express orders of the IG Prisons, Shri P.V. Sinari, on September 3, 1986. Swaran was to come the next day. I was perturbed. But Major Mohan came and met me. He informed that he was going to pick up my wife for the lunch. He had already made arrangements to collect the kids directly from the school.
He brought my wife and daughters to the jail after the lunch. He sat with Sh. A.K. Khanna, Asstt. Supdt., when I talked with my wife and daughters.
My letter to the editor had been published under the caption "Open Challenge" in its August 31, 1986 issue by the Illustrated Weekly.
Khanna, told me later that "your friend was shown the letter. He was unhappy to read it. "He had passed certain remarks," he informed, "which can not be said by a friend." "What sort of friend is he?", Khanna enquired. I remained silent.
After this incident Major Mohan did not come. I too, forgot about him. Then on November 16, 1986, Sh. Rajinder Puri, wrote an article in "Sunday Observer". After this I suddenly found Major Mohan one day sitting with the Dy. Supdt. He apologized for not coming earlier. Then he said that majority of officers believed I was involved in sexual exploits. "There is an officer in my unit who was an escort officer on you in Nagrota. He keeps disparaging you" he confessed.
I was stunned. I asked who the escort officer was who belittled me, and the reasons for his doing so. "For no reason. He does not say why, yet he does so", said the Major.
It was amusing I was being belittled by the officer without reasons!
"I am above all these insinuation based on no facts or reasons", I retorted, and added, "Neither do I care. If it is considered I was a sex maniac and unfaithful to my wife she would not worship and wait for me as she does and you Major Mohan, have seen it for yourself. Besides I was not sentenced for sexual exploits but for spying. What do they think about this charge?
Obviously I noticed he tried to dampen my spirit. Finding me, instead, in an aggressive mood he pleaded I should not talk wrong about the army. The army is helpless.
"The Chief", he informed, "cannot do anything in your case because he had confirmed it". He advised me to petition the Defence Minister. I said, I won't, Because I had done so in the past without any results. In any case the Defence Minister, I told, would again refer the case to the Army Chief. However, he insisted and offered to prepare and file the petition if I gave him the relevant points and the documents. I agreed and asked him to come again to collect the documents. He did, but the jail authorities refused to allow me to give the papers, I wanted to hand over to Major Mohan. The refusal was illegal. So I created a row. Finally the i.g. Prisons agreed. But Major Mohan never came again.
Later, Sh. V.K.S. Chauhan, the Supdt., with whom I had developed a close rapport informed me that the military intelligence people had contacted him. They wanted to monitor my interviews. But Chauhan had declined to allow them.
It was clear Major Mohan, developed "friendship" with me at the instance of some army top brass., in order to find out any weak point so that the Army, could react to my allegations. Alas, they failed. Then they tried to do it more directly. For that they deputed another Major.
His name was Major Subhash gupta. But here too, they failed. For I had no secrets - not even a pretence of having them. I wondered what did they want to find out! Their search was futile. I had nothing which they could take. Only my spirit - which I had already given them through my unmatched struggle.
At times I felt sad, but not for me. the sadness stemmed from the fact that I had tried to put the army bosses to shame, not realising, the army top brass was beyond it : not realising one can dishonour a person who has honour. A person without honour cannot be dishonoured. This awareness brought total disenchantment and put a big question mark at the much talked about morality in the army. Morality in army, it boiled down, was a cliche used only for convenience. The sadness was to see the state to which this noble profession of arms had been reduced by none else than the successive army chiefs.
God bless this army and this nation!
|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 ||