11 May, 2021

Cost Of A RAW Deal: In Jammu, Former Spies Wage A Lonely Battle For Recognition

Former spies, who returned to India after imprisonment in Pakistan and were disowned by Indian intelligence agencies they worked for, went on to launch NGO called Jammu Ex-sleuths.

Illustration by Manjul
Cost Of A RAW Deal: In Jammu, Former Spies Wage A Lonely Battle For Recognition

It is in the nature of their job that spies are talked about more in the country they are deployed than the one they work for. It’s common practice for intelligence agencies to disown their men when they are captured in a foreign country. Do-and-­deny is indeed the No. 1 mantra of esp­ionage. So Indians would hear more ­often about Pakistani spies working for ISI and getting arrested in India, than about India’s spies in Pakistan. Few have heard of Jammu-based ­Vinod Sawhney, for example, who was an Indian spy in Pakistan. Now he heads Jammu Ex-sleuths, a registered NGO that the 65-year-old founded for rehabilitating former spies.

“Both my grown-up sons complain that I have done nothing great in my life. Neither do they like what I do now. I don’t mind as I know we did good things for our country. It is another matter that the country has forgotten us,” says Sawhney, who lives in a one-storey house on a narrow lane near Shaheed Baghat Singh Chowk in Jammu’s Bakshi Nagar area. He often quotes Pakistani poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz...

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