Raw at War-Genesis of Secret Agencies in Ancient India


Columnist Gp Capt SM HALI examines the historical capacity of Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) of India to conduct clandestine operations


Espionage, euphemistically called the second oldest profession of the world finds a mention in the Indian Vedas, one of the most - if not the most - ancient of the human texts. References to espionage are also discernible in the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, Greece and China. The Chinese sage Sun Tzu is considered by European scholars to be the first to study and analyse the whole question of espionage on scientific lines, and to set it down in a text book Ping Fa, The Art of War. This view is, however, not substantiated by cogent facts since there is ample proof of the greater antiquity and soundness of the system of Secret Services enunciated by the early Indians.

Varuna, one of the chief gods of the Vedic pantheon is considered to be a forerunner of Secret Services. Magha, one of the most erudite and lucid poets and pragmatic thinkers, unequivocally asserted that statecraft cannot exist without the assistance of espionage. He writes:-

'The statecraft in which even a single step is not taken in contravention of the science of dandaniti {(i.e. the law of danda (the rod)} which provides decent living (to the officers) and in which liberal grants are given in recognition of services rendered, does not shine to advantage without (the employment of ) spies, just as the science of grammar does not shine without Papasa Bhasya (the introductory portion of Patanjali's Mahabhasya), though it is provided with Nyasa (a commentary of that name) which strictly follows the words of the Sutras (of Panini), a good vrtti (explanatory work) and an excellent Bhasya (advance work of explanation, discussion and criticism)'.

- (Sisupala - vadha, 2.112)

Secret Agencies in ancient India were not conceived of as an instrument of oppression but as a tool of governance. Secret agents were considered as 'eyes of the king'.

Indian history illustrates that ancient Indians had gained great expertise in this secret art. The techniques and operational methods adopted by them were highly advanced, and can be usefully emulated today. From the spasas of Varuna, the fore-runners of the modern globe-trotting spies (the etymological affinity of the two terms is noticeable) to Chanakya's final manifestation of this art in the Arthasastra which is in fact a systematic codification of a wide variety of scattered information copiously found in the Epics, - the Mahabharata and the Ramayana - the Puranas and literary works of Bhasa, Kalidasa, Magha and Bana; and the Tamil Sangam literature, transcends unprecedented heights in this discipline.

The vision of the Arthashastra, is truly breath taking, its practical utility timeless and the clarity of its exposition unique. The techniques of manipulating public opinion and creating disinformation, propounded by Chanakya anticipated modern intelligence systems by several centuries. No wonder then that the nearly 2500 years old lessons in deceit, guile, hypocrisy, machination, and gore taught by that Master strategist, Chanakya alias Kautilya (literally meaning 'crooked') was adopted in toto by India and its chief intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).

While laying the foundation stone of RAW, India's late Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi approvingly quoted Louis F Hallis, when she said that its objectives should be the 'Ability to get what one wants by whatever means: eloquence, reasoned arguments, bluff, tirade, threat or coercion, as well as, by arousing pity, annoying others, or making them uneasy'.

RAW is basically a Secret Service established to perform clandestine operations based on the Chanakyan principles of deceit and guile. It has successfully destabilised neighbouring countries, disintegrated independent states and backed the most notorious guerrilla organizations to achieve its ends. If it is compared to other intelligence agencies of the region, it emerges as an aggressive, cold-blooded and ruthless institution, engaged in the most macabre deeds.

The organization and structure of RAW will be discussed in the second part of this paper. But to appreciate its working we must, first examine the origin and organization of India's ancient secret agencies.

Origin and Organization of  Secret Agencies in Ancient India

The origin and development of Secret Agencies in ancient India is linked to the geopolitical conditions of the times when India was dotted with small states attempting to grab each other's territory and wealth. The art of espionage was thoroughly mastered, and almost all ancient Indian literary sources exhaustively dealt with this system. Spying came to be regarded as an indispensable feature and integral part of an efficient administration and of a sound foreign policy. It kept the rulers posted with the activities, afflictions, and operations of political adversaries: their disloyal and disgruntled elements, fifth columnists and foreign agents in their midst, also the strength and intentions of all foreign power. Espionage was considered to be as important an institution as diplomacy, and was sought to be governed by certain definite rules and usages. In Chanakya, the secret service department became a permanent feature of the state and was organised in the most 'uninhibited manner'.

While Chanakya presents a highly developed and complicated system of governance including an all-pervasive espionage system, references to it are found in pre-Mauryan literature, too. The Mahabharata refers to a mythological tradition on the origin of the dandaniti and the art of espionage, which was handed down from the past. It expounds 'Brahma, the creator, himself composed a work comprising 1,00,000 chapters relating to dharma (religion), artha (economy), kama (sexual desire) and moksa (spiritual salvation) - the four aspects of life.' Brahma's compilation, according to the Great Epic, included subjects of behaviour towards counsellors, of spies, the indication of princes, of secret agents possessed of diverse means, of envoys, and agents of other kinds, conciliation, fomenting discord, gifts and chastisement; deliberations including counsels for producing disunion; the three kinds of victory, first, that which served righteously, secondly, which was won by wealth, and, thirdly, the one obtained by deceitful ways; chastisement of two kinds, namely, open and secret; the disorder created in the hostile troops; inspiring the enemy with fear; the means of winning over persons residing in the enemy territory; and finally, the chastisement and destruction of those that are strong.'

No other civilization can claim such an antiquity for the techniques of war, diplomacy, intrigue and espionage and on such compulsive terms.

In short, Varuna and other deities of the Vedic pantheon heavily depended on their secret agents. Manu, Kamandaka, Yajnavalkya and Chanakya, besides the later digest writers, deliberated on the art of espionage, while Chanakya perfected the art and recommended the organisation of secret agencies in the most unabashed manner. Professor Ghoshal suggests that the Mauryas followed the Arthasastra tradition in four respects, i.e. precautions in recruiting spies, countrywide espionage, safeguards against false reports by secret agents and enlistment of the services of loose women.


The modest origin of secret agents in the form of Varuna's spasas brought about the imperative need for effective and vigorous espionage in an institutionalized form. The blue-print on espionage prepared by Chanakya has remained a model for successive generations. Various aspects of the organization of a secret agency as discussed in complete detail in the Arthasastra are briefly touched upon here.

* Category of Agents. The Arthasastra mentions two wings of 'secret service', viz. 'samstha' and 'sancara'. The agents belonging to 'samstha' were stationed in the Establishment financed by the State, whereas the 'sancaras' moved from place to place depending on professional requirements. The spymasters of the two wings headed their respective cadre of agents, and controlled their operations. The members of one group were not aware of the existence of the other. This classification of Chanakya has been followed in India throughout the successive centuries.

* Recruitment of Secret Agents. A study of Arthasastra, the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, the Manusmriti, Kamandaka and Sukra reveals that there was no fixed source of recruitment of secret agents. Modern intelligence services generally resort to three main sources of recruitment, the academic world, the armed services and the under-world. This was also the pattern followed in ancient India.

* Training. After recruitment, the secret agents were put through a rigorous training in the techniques of adopting disguises, changing appearances, science of signalling, secret writing, detection and identification of criminals, manipulating public opinion and creating dissensions in the enemy ranks.

* Control and Supervision. The complicated, comprehensive, all-pervasive and ubiquitous institution of spies in ancient India necessitated very close and personal supervision of the ruler or his most reliable officers. It must have been difficult for the king to personally handle the comprehensive and complicated department of intelligence. According to the Arthasastra, the department of external affairs, which was covering military intelligence was managed by the king with the help of his foreign minister and the Commander-in-Chief. The agents detailed to cover the senior officers of the central government certainly reported to the king directly. In the far-flung areas of extensive kingdoms and in view of poor means of communication, the action specially in times of war had to be taken by men on the spot and not by the king who may be at a place far distant from the field of action. In foreign countries the spies were kept under the control and supervision of ambassadors who scrutinised their reports and directed intelligence operations. According to Chanakya, the institution of spies as an organization did not function under a unified command. The spies and secret agents worked under their respective heads of department, and also directly under the king.

Techniques of Espionage

Before discussing the working of RAW, it would be worthwhile to briefly examine some of the techniques of espionage employed by the ancient secret agencies of India.

* Motivation and Recruitment of Sources. Motivation of persons to cater intelligence is directly proportionate to their weakness for sex and money, besides the burning desire of revenge or insatiable hunger for power. The Spymasters of ancient India exploited these weaknesses to their fullest advantage, and even the modern intelligence agencies heavily depend on these considerations. Chanakya advocated that the weak should be subjugated by means of conciliation and gifts, the strong by means of dissension and force.

* Selection and Infiltration of Targets. Chanakya, in a very subtle manner and with an intimate knowledge of human psychology, selected his targets in foreign lands depending on their weaknesses and motivation. He advised secret agents to concentrate on targets:-

* Among those who are dissatisfied with the rulers or had been humiliated or exiled;

* Who have not been compensated for their expenditure;

* Those who have been deprived of their rightful inheritance to office;

* Whose women have been molested by force;

* Who were wrongly imprisoned;

* Whose property had been confiscated;

* Who are prone to blackmail due to some weakness.

Double-Agent Operation. A 'Double-Agent' is a spy who works for the opposition while pretending loyalty to those who employ him. this technique is an indispensable facet of agent-running and was extensively practised in ancient India. Chanakya suggested that secret agents should not refuse pay from the targets for working with them as their employees. This was to allay the misgivings on the part of the targets. 'Double-Agents' were used for creating dissensions and confusion among the confederates of the enemy. They floated false documents, got them seized from the possession of the enemy's army chiefs, and thus weakened the enemy. 'Double-Agents' were used to winning over the confidence of their adopted masters by sacrificing a few exposed, treacherous, disaffected or inefficient spies.

* Payment of Sources Encouragement of secret agents with money and honour was considered an imperative necessity. The sources were paid both in cash and kind, besides receiving extraordinary courtesies and favours. It was also recommended that secret agents not only be rewarded for the job done by them but, also, in the event of repeated mistakes, silent punishment-death-be awarded to them.

* Communication of Intelligence Intelligence not properly and promptly conveyed and which cannot be acted upon loses its value and validity. Besides this, the Arthasastra, Mahabharata, Ramayana, Kamandaka and Kathasaritasagara all recommend the use of coded language and signals.

* Interception of Mail Interception of messages, signals and letters by postal censorship; monitoring and tapping telephones; and breaking codes is the standard practice of modern intelligence agencies. In the ancient period, since intelligence was communicated through pre-determined signals and with the assistance of pigeons, secret agents must have made elaborate arrangements to intercept these messages.

* Assessment of Information. The Arthasastra cautions against the placing of reliance on agents without proper corroboration. It is repeatedly emphasised that all aspects of a report must be gone through, including the source of information, the mode of its collection and the past performance of a source before it is accepted. Briefing and debriefing of secret agents was an elaborate exercise, and they were trained to be precise, accurate and truthful in reporting.

* Working Under 'Cover'. The institution of espionage in ancient India, like modern times, required secret agents to work under some kind of 'cover' to preserve secrecy. Chanakya institutionalized the art of working under the most ingenious 'covers'. The most common disguises recommended by him were those of ascetic, mendicant, merchant, artisan, wandering minstrel, artiste, cook, barber and shampooer, bath and toilet attendant, deaf, dumb, eunuch and prostitute. Chanakya recommends the use of women as effective tools of espionage particularly those who were engaged in harlotry.

* Counter-Intelligence. A counter-intelligence operation is directed at discovering the identities and methods of foreign spies and intelligence officers working for the opposition. One of the most important duties of the Secret Service in ancient India was to counteract the activities of such agents operating within the country. Chanakya recommends that secret agents should discover foreign spies by operating at the places of entertainment, conclaves of people, among beggars, in gardens and public places, and the houses of prominent citizens.

Disinformation and Dissension. Manipulation of public opinion is as important an object of the State today as it was in ancient India. It is used to create disharmony and distrust among the enemy's friends, ill-will among his allies, loss of confidence in their leadership and disruption by psychological means his capacity and will to fight. Chanakya had perfected the technique of disinformation and highly eulogised the use of dissension in enemy's ranks for winning a battle without any military action. His winning an extensive empire for his student Chandragupta Maurya without fighting any mentionable battle is awe—, and one may be excused to add: admiration—, inspiring feat, unparalleled in history. The Sanskrit Classical drama Mudrakshasa has tried to depict it dramatically but, at best, has only partially succeeded.

* Sabotage. The technique of sabotage, which the political strategists consider as the penultimate means to vanquish an adversary, had been greatly perfected in ancient India. Secret practices for sabotage were advocated by Chanakya to ensure victory. As a preface to sabotage, he suggests the creation of an atmosphere congenial to arousing terror, fear, demoralization, disappointment and loss of confidence among the enemy ranks. Prior to launching a full-scale assault on the enemy fort, Chanakya suggests implementation of secret measures to weaken its defences not only physically but in all respects. These include prevention of sowing the fields, destruction of the standing crops and cutting of the enemy's supply lines.

He also advises free and uninhibited use of poison in the articles used by the enemy. His detailed and scientifically valid knowledge of the subject has earned for him a place in Arabic medical literature, that knows him as Ibn Shanaq (son of Chanak). Some of the secret stratagems advocated by Chanakya include the use of smoke with properties seriously affecting the vision, and, arson or setting fires within the enemy fort.

* The employment of Visakanyas (Poison-damsels). Secret Agencies in ancient India had perfected very ingenious techniques to subserve the interests of their monarchs. Besides using the nascent technological advancement available to them, they exploited human weakness for sex to achieve royal objectives. Visakanya is a unique feature of the Indian genius to poison the monarch. These venomous beauties can be classified, as follows:-

* A damsel whose body is saturated with gradual doses of poison, and who is likely to transmit poison from her body to another person coming in contact with her;

* A woman who treacherously captivates the heart of a person, and then mixes poison in his food or drink;

* A girl who is, one way or the other, so much poisoned or infected with disease that she is likely to convey her poison or disease to the person coming in contact with her. A woman suffering from Venereal disease or, in the latest situation one suffering from Aids is a Visakanya of this kind.


What is not possible by deployment of force is possible by the use of stratagem.The black cobra was defeated by the stratagem of the crow and the golden chain.

-- Chanakya


The first part of this article briefly traced out the history of secret services in ancient India. Its chief progenitor was Chanakya, whose classic, the Arthasastra, not only provides a fairly graphic account of the activities of spies in the Mauryan and post-Mauryan polity but lays the foundation for the 'statecraft', guile and unscrupulous practices advocated by this master strategist.

He goes on to recommend, 'In the work of espionage, all methods are admissible — snooping, lying, bribing, poisoning, using women's wiles and the assassin's knife. To a weak king menaced by strong neighbours, Chanakya's advice was to rely chiefly on spies and wage what he described as a 'battle of intrigues' (mantra yuddha) and 'secret wars' (kuta yuddha). The spies, in order to achieve their objective, were to practice all kinds of fraud, artifice incendiarism and robbery. Their objective was to demoralize the enemy's troops by circulating false news, and seduce the allegiance of his minister and commanders. The underlying idea seems to have been to keep the strong neighbour preoccupied with domestic troubles thus making it impossible for him to launch a foreign expedition. From the days of Chanakya, the rules of business of espionage have not changed, at least the basic principles remain as before. The development of science and technology has only given fresh impetus and tools to the art of spying.

Evolution of RAW

Origins in the Directorate of Intelligence Bureau, created by the Raj in November 1920 — during the Khilafat and Swaraj movements — out of the old Criminal Intelligence Department (CID). In 1933, sensing the political turmoil in the world which eventually led to the Second World War, the bureau's responsibilities were increased to include the collection of intelligence along India's borders. In 1947, after Independence, Sanjeevi Pillai took over as the first Indian Director. Having been depleted of trained manpower by the exit of the British and Muslims, Pillai tried to run the bureau along MI 5 lines. Although in 1949, Pillai organized a small foreign intelligence set-up, the inefficacy of it was proved by the Indian debacle in the Indo-China War of 1962, and the cry of 'not enough intelligence available', was taken up by the Indian Chief of Army Staff, General Chaudhry, after the 1965 Indo-Pak war.

It was towards the end of 1966 and the beginning of 1967 that the concept of a separate foreign intelligence agency began to take concrete shape. In 1968, after Indira Gandhi had taken over, it was decided that a full-fledged second security service was needed. R. N. Kao, then a deputy director of IB, submitted a blueprint for the new agency. Kao was appointed as the chief of India's first foreign intelligence agency named as 'the Research and Analysis Wing' or RAW.

RAW takes shape

Having started humbly as a Wing of the main Intelligence Bureau with 250 personnel and an annual budget of Rs 2 crore (by a rough estimate), in the early seventies, its annual budget had risen to Rs 30 crores while its personnel numbered several thousand. In 1971, Kao had persuaded the government to set up the Aviation Research Centre (ARC). The ARC's job was aerial reconnaissance. It replaced the Indian Air Force's old reconnaissance aircraft and by the mid-70s, RAW, through the ARC, had high quality aerial pictures of the installations along the Chinese and Pakistani borders. By 1976, Kao had been promoted to the rank of a fullfledged Secretary responsible for Security and reporting directly to the Prime Minister. His rise had raised RAW to become India's premier intelligence agency. RAW agents operated in virtually every major embassy and high commission.

RAW's objectives

The objectives of RAW according to Asoka Raina's famous book Inside RAW (Vikas Publishing House, New Delhi, 1981) have been:-

* To monitor the political and military developments in all the adjoining countries, which have, direct bearing on India's national security and in the formulation of its foreign policy.

* Secondly, RAW watched the development of international communism and the schism between the two communist giants, the Soviet Union and The Republic of China. For as in other countries both the powers had direct access to the Communist Parties in India.

* Thirdly, the supply of military hardware to Pakistan mostly from European countries, the USA and China, was of high priority.

* And last but not the least, the presence of a large ethnic Indian population in foreign countries, provided a powerful lobby. These countries could back a favourable policy in international councils, motivated by the ethnic Indian group.

The Organization

RAW has been organized on the lines of the CIA. The following chart (source: Inside RAW by Asoka Raina) signifies the organization of RAW and is self-explanatory.

Training of RAW Agents

Recruitment: Initially, induction in RAW relied primarily on trained intelligence officers who were recruited directly. These belonged to the external wing of IB. However, quite a few were taken from police and other services to fill the cadres of RAW owing to its sudden expansion. Later RAW began recruiting promising fresh graduates from the Universities directly. The criteria for selection are fairly stringent.

Basic Training: Basic training commences with 'pep talks' to boost the morale of the new recruit. This is a ten days' phase in which the fresh inductee is familiarized with the world of intelligence and espionage and alienated from the spies of fiction. Common usages, technical jargon and classification of information are taught. Case studies of other agencies like CIA, KGB, Chinese Secret Agency and ISI are presented for study. He is also taught that an intelligence organisation does not basically identify a friend from a foe, it is the country's foreign policy that do.

Phase - II: The fresh recruit's training continues and he is now posted in some remote outpost, attached to a Field Intelligence Bureau (FIB). His training here lasts for a period of six months to a year. He is given a first hand feeling of what it was to be out in the cold, in the danger area conducting clandestine operation. During night exercises, under conditions of absolute realism, he is taught infiltration and exfiltration. He is instructed to avoid capture and if caught, how to face intensive interrogation; the art of reconnoiter, making contacts, and, the numerous skills of operating an intelligence mission. At the end of the field training, the new recruit is brought back to the School for final polishing. Before his deployment in the field, he is given exhaustive training in the art of self-defence, an introduction to martial arts and the use of technical espionage devices. He is also drilled in various administrative disciplines so that he could take his place in the foreign missions without arousing suspicion. He is now ready to operate under the cover of an Embassy to gather information, set up his own network of informers, moles or operatives as the task may require.

Functions of RAW

The functions of RAW vary according to the target. Some functions for obtaining strategic intelligence are outlined below:-

Collection of Information: Emphasis is laid on obtaining information essential to Indian interests. Both overt and covert means are adopted.

Collection of Information : The vast myriad of data is sifted through, classified and filed. The modern computer network in the 13-storey bombproof building situated at Lodhi Road, New Delhi, is a great help.

Aggressive Intelligence: The primary mission of RAW includes aggressive intelligence which comprise espionage, psychological warfare, subversion, sabotage, terrorism and creating dissension, insurgency and, ultimately, insurrection to destabilize the target country.

Modus Operandi

Foreign Missions: Foreign Missions provide an ideal cover and RAW centres in a target country are generally located inside the Embassy premises.

Multinationals: RAW operatives find good covers in Multinational organizations. NGOs and Cultural programmes are also popular screens to shield RAW activities.

Media: International media centres can easily absorb RAW operatives and provide freedom of movement.

Collaboration with other agencies: RAW maintains active collaboration with other secret services to meet its ends in a particular target country. Its contacts with KGB of the former Soviet Union, KHAD, the erstwhile Afghan agency, Mossad, CIA and MI6 have been well-known. A common interest being Pakistan's Nuclear Programme.

Third Country Technique: RAW has been very active in obtaining information and operating through third countries like the Middle East, Afghanistan, UK, Hong Kong, Mayanmar and Singapore.

Spotting and Recruitment: RAW operatives are on the lookout for local recruits to serve their ends. Acting on the Chanakyan principles, they tend to exploit human weaknesses for wine, women and wealth, and, at times resort to blackmail. Separatist tendencies and ethnic or sectarian sensitivities are also well-known grounds for manipulation. Armed Forces personnel remain a primary target. Those journalists, intellectuals and politicians harbouring and preaching goodwill and better Indo-Pak relations also make suitable targets for inadvertent and unconscious recruitment by RAW agents.

Major successes of RAW

Creation of Bangladesh: The Bangladesh operation, beginning with sowing seeds of dissension, leading to the Agartala Conspiracy, creation of Mukti Bahini and under its cover sneaking into East Pakistan for guerrilla operations to blow up bridges and other installations damaged the morale of Pakistani troops and India won the war even before the battle began, thanks to RAW as its agents had infiltrated every nook and corner of erstwhile East Pakistan. The paragraph entitled: 'RAW takes shape', in the initial part of this article, amply demonstrates the causal chain of events.

Plan to assassinate General Zia-ur-Rahman: According to the September 18-24, 1988 issue of the weekly Magazine Sunday (Calcutta), RAW was on the verge of assassinating Bangladesh's President General Zia-ur-Rahman (with Mrs Gandhi's approval) when the Congress government fell. RAW briefed the new Prime Minister Morarji Desai about it who was appalled at the idea and stopped the murder. General Zia continued to rule Bangladesh for many more years. He was assassinated after Indira Gandhi returned to power but RAW pleads innocence.

Poornima: Project Poornima was the name given India's Nuclear Programme. The task to keep it 'under tight wraps of security' was given to RAW. This was the first time that RAW was involved in a project inside India. The rest is history as India managed to surprise the world on 18 May, 1974 by detonating a 15-Kiloton plutonium device at Pokharan.

Kahuta's Blueprint: According to the September 18-24, 1988 issue of the weekly Indian Magazine Sunday, RAW agents claim that in early 1978, they were on the verge of obtaining the plans and blueprint for Kahuta nuclear plant that was built to counter the Pokharan atomic blast, but the then Indian Prime Minister Morarji Desai not only refused to sanction the $ 10,000 demanded by the RAW agent, but informed Pakistan of the offer. According to the report, Pakistanis caught and eliminated the RAW mole.

It must be noted that the author of 'Ham Jang Nahin Hone Denge' held the external affairs portfolio at that time.

Sikkim: Encircled by Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan and West Bengal in the Eastern Himalayas, Sikkim presented a lucrative target to the Indians. It was ruled by a Maharaja. The Indian Government had recognized the title of Chogyal (Dharma Raja) for the Mahraja of Sikkim. After their kill in East Pakistan, in 1972, RAW was given the green signal to go ahead with the operation of installing a pro-Indian democratic government there. In less than three years, with the manipulation of RAW, Sikkim became the 22nd State of the Indian Union on April 26, 1975.

Maldives: To bring the smaller Independent States/countries in the Indian sphere of influence with the use of RAW, the case of Maldives makes an important example. In November 1988, the Eilam Peoples' Liberation Front comprising about 200 Tamil secessionists on the pay roll of RAW were tasked to stage the drama of an uprising on that peaceful island. At the request of the President of Maldives, Mr Mamoon Abdul Qayyum, Indian Armed Forces 'quelled' the insurgency engineered by themselves and thus tried to sneak into the administrative mechanism of that peace-loving country.

Operation Chanakya: This was the codename given to the RAW operation in Occupied Kashmir to create rifts among the various Kashmiri Mujahideen groups, suppress the uprising and bring the Kashmiris under total Indian subjugation. According to Tariq Ismail Sagar's book RAW, (Milli Book Depot, Lahore, 1997) in 1991, RAW operatives entered the Srinagar Valley in the guise of freedom fighters. They resorted to loot, rape and arson of Kashmiri Pundit families to give the popular non-communal uprising a bad name. Operation Chanakya gained momentum when Mossad provided its experienced Katsas to train RAW operatives. They did gain initial successes but when later actions of Operations Chanakya failed, RAW commenced an intensive propaganda to blame ISI.

Monitoring Pakistani Telecommunication: Raw operatives boast that at one time its monitoring complex had managed to break through Pakistani Telecommunications and were listening in to all telephonic conversations held by important Pakistani leaders.

RAW's Failures

Although RAW has had many successes, it has also committed a number of blunders. Some of these are discussed below:

Promulgation of Emergency: Whereas the IB Director, A. Jayaram had advised Mrs Indira Gandhi against promulgating the Emergency, Kao, Mrs Gandhi's handpicked man and RAW's head, supported it. This proved to be a fatal mistake. He continued to feed the PM reports of its popularity and that no excesses were committed. How disastrous it proved for Kao's benefactor is a matter of history.

Operation Blue Star: This was the codename given to the storming of the holiest Sikh shrine, the Golden Temple of Amritsar in 1984. Although it was a domestic matter and IB's concern, yet RAW was pulled in under the pretext of a foreign element's (allegedly Pakistani) involvement. RAW failed miserably as it could not assess the strength of Bhindranwale's forces. What was to be a 5 hours' operation stretched to 5 days and tanks had to be brought in and Indian Army suffered heavy casualties. Ultimately Indira Gandhi had to pay with her own life as she was gunned down by her Sikh bodyguard in retaliation to Operation Blue Star. Kao, the Prime Minister's Security Adviser resigned within 24 hours of her assassination.

Kee us ne mere qatl ke ba'd Jafaa se tauba,
Haae! Us zood pashemaan kaa pashemaan honaa.
Ah! The remorse of the one
Who after finishing me,
Took the vow never to be cruel again.
So soon did he repent!

--- Ghalib

Mujib-ur-Rahman's Assassination: RAW operatives claim that they had advance information about Shaikh Mujib-ur-Rahman's assassination but they failed to prevent it. It is interesting to note that despite its role in the creation of Bangladesh, RAW failed to annex it.

It was a classic case of the cropping up of a double dilemma: Yak na shud do shud.

Mauritius: Mrs Gandhi was so keen to see Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam continue as the Prime Minister of Mauritius that RAW was tasked to oversee his reelection campaign. Despite heavy investments, RAW failed by a wide margin.

Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka had been marked for special attention after it had permitted Pakistani aircraft to land for refuelling there after India had stopped the over flight rights of Pakistani flights to and back from East Pakistan. Sri Lankan President Junius Jaywardhene's aim of turning his country into an Asian Tiger did not suit India at all. Stung by its failures in the Indian Punjab, RAW attempted to make up in Sri Lanka. RAW started training militants to destabilize the Pearl Island but in the bargain, such a monster was unleashed that even the landing of Indian troops as a peacekeeping force in Sri Lanka failed badly. Eventually, Rajiv Gandhi became a victim of the muddling in Sri Lanka.

RAW seems to be a congenital enemy of the Gandhi family.

Soft Target: Zuhair Kashmiri and Brian Mac Andrew's well-known book Soft Target (James Lorimer and Comp., Publishers, Toronto, 1994) provides details of RAW's botched operations in Canada to malign the Sikhs there for their role in the Khalsa movement and make them suspect in the eyes of the Canadian authorities. On 23 June, 1985 Air India's Flight 182 was blown up near Ireland and 329 innocent lives were lost. On the same day another explosion took place at Tokyo's Narita airport's transit baggage building where baggage was being transferred from Cathay Pacific Flight No CP 003 to Air India's Flight 301 which was scheduled for Bangkok. Both aircraft were loaded with explosives from Canadian airports. Flight 301 got saved because of a delay in its departure. Initially RAW was successful in pointing the finger at Canadian Sikhs but the Canadian authorities soon concluded that it was a RAW ploy.

RAW's Primary Target: Pakistan

Pakistan remains RAW's primary concern. It runs thousands of agents and spends millions of rupees in its operations against Pakistan. It has made a three-pronged attack against Pakistan in an attempt to destabilise it:-

* Propaganda

* Espionage, and

* Subversion

RAW is totally committed on all these three fronts and is engaged in launching covert operations in consonance with India's hostile foreign policy. The Jain Commission Report, released by India in 1997, acknowledges that RAW did sponsor the terrorist activities of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eilam (LTTE) in Sri Lanka and violent intervention in Bangladesh. All aspects of Pakistani activities, economic, military, industrial and cultural receive a close scrutiny of RAW. It considers Sindh as the soft under-belly of Pakistan and has therefore made it the prime target for sabotage and subversion. Ashok A Biswas, a Delhi-based research scholar, in his recently compiled study RAW - An Unobstructive Instrument of India's Foreign Policy, (as quoted by Pakistan Observer in 'A RAW deal for South Asia, 03 May, 1998) states that 'the aim of RAW is to keep internal disturbances flaring up and the ISI preoccupied so that Pakistan can lend no worthwhile resistance to Indian designs in the region.' He concludes, 'RAW over the years has admirably fulfilled its task of destabilizing target states through unbridled export for terrorism. The 'Indian Doctrine' spelt out a difficult and onerous role of RAW. It goes to its credit that it has accomplished its assigned objectives. The Indian government spelling out the task for RAW in this regard has stated, 'Pakistan should be so destabilized internally that it could not support the 'Kashmir cause even morally, diplomatically or politically'. Keeping the size of Pakistan in view, the task seems a difficult one for RAW. But it appears, RAW has taken it as a challenge and is working assiduously and speedily to accomplish this task'.

No wonder, with the wily Chanakya as its mentor and the machinations preached in his Arthasastra as their bible, RAW is well equipped to continue waging its war of propaganda, sabotage and subversion. It is for its prime target 'Pakistan' to be wary of its macabre game plan of continuing war by 'other means' and continue exposing RAW's heinous designs against us, which are a blatant, utter and naked violation of all human values. And not the least the people and the leadership of India; for as the great poet Ghalib said:

Hue tum dost jiske,
Us ka dushman asman kiyun ho

With a friend like you,
Who needs a foe!