Chitralekha Gujarati issue dated 5 June 2017

Anatomy of A Spy

In the wake of the much-publicised case of Kulbhushan Jadhav, an Indian national arrested and accused by Pak authorities of being an Indian ‘spy’, Chitralekha delves into the dimly lit world of spies-the little-known tribe that prefers to work under cover to elicit secret information in a clandestine manner. Spies families are usually clueless about their activities nor are they confided in by intelligence agents. Often, critical decisions like war or launching an attack are taken based on intel gathered by secret agents. In this cover story Hiren Mehta unearths some hitherto-unknown facts about spies, how they are made and their secretive modus operandi.

Ironically, spying is a thankless job. If a spy is caught in an enemy country and later released, there are chances that he would be disowned by his own country as accepting his existence would be tantamount to compromising sensitive info. Even if his espionage activities have led to a success, nobody would so much as even acknowledge his influence, let alone his contribution. Like their activities, their names too are kept hidden. Sometimes, when their covers get blown, common people get to know their existence and activities. They live the life of a stranger even among their own.

The story traces the movements of spies to what is euphemistically called ‘safe house’ that is more often than not based in villages close to the border. Sometimes, there are more than one safe house in a village, but when confronted about it, villagers would feign ignorance and quietly walk away. These houses are called safe because it is here, the story reveals, that an agent tasked with espionage assignment is housed before being smuggled across the border on getting a nod from agencies. Once the mission is accomplished, he would come and stay put in the same house before disappearing in the thin air, as if he never existed.

However the very term ‘spy’ conjures up the stereotypes of spies like James Bond who is enviably surrounded by a bevy of beauties, killing at the same time his foes with guns that keep blazing away non-stop. Reality is however a far cry from what is a glamorous image of a spy. He has to constantly live under cover and work stealthily without arousing suspicions. Secrecy is the first rule of his profession. The profession must have originated since the times when a need was felt to be a winner in a game of one-upmanship. Even kings and emperors of yesteryear are known to have ventured out at night in cognito to keep an eye on the welfare of their subjects.

It is unthinkable in present times, as today’s kings cannot step out without ‘Z’ plus security allotted to them. Today this task has to be undertaken by a faceless man or woman who is relatively unknown outside his area of activities. He could be a military or police official or even a commoner. He could be an ordinary trader or an industrialist or an artist or a sportsman ostensibly engaged in his chosen field of work, but in reality his assignment is to secure highly sensitive information.

Like in love and war, in the realm of spying too, everything is perceived to be fair. Sometimes well-known celebs too are used for espionage work, like back in the seventies and eighties, a well-known Indian singer maintained a good rapport with Pakistan. Later it transpired that a famous Pak gazal singer who would regularly visit India would collect intel from his sources in India with impunity. Being a high-profile celebrity, nobody could dare touch him.

The rest of the story deals with how India and Pakistan engaged in espionage activities and how they treated the spies when they are caught. The cover story carries a boxed piece that reveals under what circumstances the Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) was born. Though its need was felt during the ’62 Indo-China war when the latter could usurp a large swathe of India in absence of any credible intel, the agency came into being much later in 1968 after the ’65 war with Pakistan.

A related cover story by Sunil Mevada throws light on several well-known world women spies like Matahari, Christine Killer, Ana Chapman and so on, who proved that they were no less than their male counterparts.

A Love Story…With a Difference   

Usha Rada is a tough cop based in Ahmedabad while the boy is settled in UK. Deputy Commissioner of Police from Zone 2, Usha is known for her tough image that can put a scare in the hearts of criminals. But when Naresh Desai proposed first for friendship on Facebook, she melted and surrendered to him.

A divorcee with a daughter from her first marriage, Usha was charmed by Naresh’s decent and straightforward way. Besides, his leaning for meditation and austere and spiritual life impressed her most.

After 3-year of Facebook friendship, they have now recently married, says Mahesh Shah who introduces us to this unusual friendship between a strict policewoman and a spiritual man.

Pranav Desai: A Polio Survivor with Different Abilities

He is an Indian-American who has now been appointed Advisor to Accessible India launched by Narendra Modi. Besides Dr. Bhushan Punani, it was Pranav who played a vital role in drafting and passing a bill on Rights of Persons with Disabilities-2016. An important voice of the specially-abled people of India, the Polio survivor Pranav Desai is associated with a Japanese IT giant.

During his first interaction with Narendra Modi when the latter was the chief minister of Gujarat then, Pranav presented him his proposal on what government can do for the disabled. When Modi sought his participation, he was not prepared.

Later in 2013, he approached Modi when the latter had become prime minister. Modi immediately tasked him with drafting of manifesto for the disabled.

The rest is history, says Ketan Trivedi.

The issue also carries Political & Humour columns, Palak, Cardiogram, Priyadarshini, novel’s new chapter, Health Helpline, Jalsaghar & Mukhwas

Ishita’s Elchi

In this world, only one disease is incurable

And that is, jealousy..!!