RAW: A History of India’s Covert Operations
Westland, Rs 799
Many of India’s political enemies will call this a fiction book. But that gives credence to its non-fictional character. What lay buried under the crusts of India’s covert operations, this book shows a glimpse. A tip off to discover what lay beneath.
RAW: A History of India’s Covert Operations is the most impressive piece of investigative journalism — a distant dream to achieve. Authored by Yatish Yadav, the entrenched investigator embodying a rare sense of the world of espionage who penned the book in carefully go-between — what to reveal and what to conceal so that the cover is not blown up. It obviously took many years for Yatish to overtly follow the covert operatives to write the book.
This is a must-read book for all who believe in the strength of the nation. Also, a must-read for India’s adversaries who wish to assess the commitment and patriotism Indians have towards their country. Much to the dislikes of operatives of CIA, Mossad, MI6, R&AW operatives had never shared their operations with the world like we see a CIA spy or an MI6 in every other movie on a mission to end anti-nationalistic operation carried out by outlaws from Tower of Liberty. In fact, the covert operations are carried out exactly the opposite way it is depicted in Hollywood and Bollywood.
This book uncovers daring covert missions carried out by Indian spies; you will never know who they were. The ones who were never conferred upon Bravery Awards or President Medals and the ones who never had a uniform to adorn those medals on. They wore the same uniform that we all did as commoners. All we know of them is that they are one among ourselves. They live a common life, as we live as neighbours.
The book is a treasure trove for “Big Breaking” news. It carries real-time operations of how humble operatives demolished the terror camps and modules, eliminating the groups posing threats to our country. Like how terror modules were busted in Punjab and not by K.P.S. Gill alone. The book tells how clear intelligence provided before the assassination of Indira Gandhi could not be deciphered by analysts. How the 2002 Parliament attack could have been averted. How China was stopped from making inroads into Sri Lanka. How the regime of Taliban was destroyed using local warlords by three code-named operatives. Why ISI-backed Harkatul-Mujahideen terrorists hijacked Air India IC-814 with 160 passengers onboard landed in Kandahar. How the ISI and its operatives were kept at bay. How the US was made friendlier, Post 2001 Twin-Tower strike by Osama bin Laden. How Pakistan was declared an international epicentre of terrorism. How the regime of Ayatollah Khomeini was made friendlier against India. How the US and Pakistan supported regime in Bangladesh was toppled with India-friendly regime in Operation Farewell. How democracy was restored in Fiji, thus preventing Indianorigin population from ethnic annihilation by the initiative of three code-named operatives?
The book has much that our enemies should be worried about. And if you thought they are scared because we are Indians, you are right. But if you thought that they are scared because we have modern weapons, you are wrong.
The book is full of thrilling stories to enlighten you to the real world of terror around us and how Indian bravehearts laid their lives to keep us in the safety net and never let their bodies be wrapped in tricolours. Prologue of the book mentions, “The first successful strike against Pakistan during the 1999 Kargil war was mounted by eighty battle-trained covert action operatives of R&AW. The team captured key locations and largely returned victorious.” No posthumous mentions for those who laid their lives and no medals for those who came back victorious and alive. Not even in a film on the Kargil war.
The book is a befitting gift on Independence Day. It proudly makes R&AW tall and powerful, committed to India beyond political patronage and external pressure. “They have set new standards in the world of espionage by shunning publicity. Unlike the CIA, the MI6 and Mossad, little is known about the feat and sacrifices of Indian spies,” the author says. This book is a tribute to all those anonymous soldiers because of who we feel proud and secure.
Soldiers who fought for us at borders are our real heroes. Soldiers who fought for us without any acknowledgement and anonymously also deserve honour and respect; they serve as the first line of defence of our forces. They neutralise threats before they reach us. They make us secure and make our enemy jittery about India’s prowess.
Spy-craft is about being there without being seen. One thing that India’s enemies fear even more than the wartime apparatus is our spying network. To be a spy needs the rare ability to infiltrate into foreign lands without using the tricks of espionage or gun powder. If you thought espionage is about power or fast chasing cars or using sophisticated arms, get real. This book is for you.
The reviewer is an independent advisor on policy, governance and leadership.