Former R&AW Officer
84, Jwalaheri, New Delhi-110063
Dated:14 August, 2015.
Shri Narendra Modi,
Hon’ble Prime Minister of India,
South Block, New Delhi.
Subject: Request to award “Bharat Ratna” to Shri R.N.Kao, founder of R&AW for his outstanding achievement for India during his entire service career as legendary Intelligence Officer which is unparallel in World Intelligence history.
Although I have no right to indulge in the discretionary powers of Government to recognize a citizen of India with award of any nature but after watching the achievements of intelligence fraternity of this country since independence, I thought it my humble duty to request you to bestow a rare honour on them. This honour could be none other than a Bharat Ratna which Late Shri Rameshwar Nath Kao, the founder of Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW) deserves to be awarded. However, before giving the details of rare contribution of Indian Intelligence in general and Kao in particular, it would be pertinent to give backgrounds details of 43 awardees of this honour in various fields as under:
iii. Industrialists : 1
vii. Sports Personalities : 1
Technocrats/Educationists : 7
Hence, you honour would observe that since 1954 none of intelligence head of this country has been awarded with rarest honour despite their unimaginable contribution. There are two icons in Indian intelligence who deserves to be honoured with this award. One is Late Shri B.N.Mullick, the builder of Intelligence Bureau who became its head in 1949 and retired in 1965. Mullick’s achievements to Indian intelligence has no match because he started it from a scratch and built it a formidable outfit despite all odds and lack of proper logistic support from Government of that era. However, the 1962 war debacle is still looming large on his giant personality although he defended himself in that fiasco. He had written in details about these events in his memoirs. Since, Herberton Brooks report on 1962 war is not made public by the Government, Mullick’s role in that war is still not questionable. The second most outstanding Intelligence legend of India is late Shri R.N.Kao whose contribution are rare and has no parallel in the intelligence history of the World. So, Shri Kao deserves to be honoured with this award of Bharat Ratna. It also becomes particularly pertinent when Singers, Musicians, Films and Sports personalities could be honoured with this highest award why not an Intelligence Officer who brought so many laurels to India and there is none other then Late Shri R.N.Kao in this field.
In this pursuit, I am writing this unusual letter to you which is not only historical but a landmark in so far as the intelligence history of this country is concerned. This history has no relevance and meaningless without mentioning the achievements of Shri R.N.Kao, founder of Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW), the premier external intelligence agency of this country. He was the world famous intelligence icon and enjoyed great respect among his contemporaries of that era in many countries. You would appreciate from the following facts and circumstances that Kao was a legendary figure in the craft of intelligence of post-independence era of this country. Indeed he was among the most prolific master of this trade and earned rare respect from most of the intelligence heads of other countries. Among them, Sir Maurice Oldfiled, head of MI6, who was portrayed as “Mr. James Bond” secret service chief in the 007 novels of famous spying fiction writer Ian Fleming, was personal fried of Kao besides George Bush Sr., CIA Chief who later became President of USA. Oldfield used to come to India every year on long vacations as guest of Kao. They shared excellent personal rapport and beside intelligence, used to share their views on various art and cultural affairs. MI6 used to give a red carpet welcome to Shri Kao whenever he used to visit their Headquarters in London. This was a rare honour for an Intelligence officer of any country. When George H.W.Bush Senior was CIA Chief during 1975-77, Kao visited CIA headquarters in Washington D.C., Bush presented a bronze statue resembling to Kao which was always found on his reading table at his residence in New Delhi. Kao also had personal interaction with the Chiefs of Mossad and French intelligence during his tenure as head of R&AW. Kao too maintained liaison relationship with some distinct intelligence agencies in various part of world. One was Yugoslavian through which Kao visited Beijing to explore possible re-alignment of relations with China and make Indira Gandhi’s visit a success. Such was his stature in world intelligence that he had the reputation of a Big Brother.
I would like to bring one instance of his brilliant rapport at international level which is now a rare feat among our present day intelligence heads, be it of R&AW or IB. When Mrs. Indira Gandhi became Prime Minister in 1980, she was not getting the date of her choice to meet US President Ronald Reagan through External Affairs Ministry officials. She asked Kao, who was her Advisor at that time, to help her in this matter. Kao arranged her meeting with Reagan through his friend George Bush Senior who was US Ambassador to China at that time. This meeting helped a lot to improve India and US relationship particularly with many regional issues like Russian interference in Afghanistan. She briefed Reagan about the assistance given to the Khalistani elements in US who were cornered thereafter this meeting. Such a level of clandestine diplomacy among the current intelligence fraternity is beyond their imagination because they lack acumen of that level which Kao possessed to impress upon other counterparts of various countries due to his sheer brilliance in various walks of life.
Late Shri Rameshwar Nath Kao was born on 10 May, 1918 at Banaras, U.P, in a Kashmiri Pandit family. His father was a UP Civil Service officer who died at the age of 29 years. He was brought up by his uncle and studied at different places during his childhood. After completing his graduation from Lucknow University, he got his Post Graduation in English with gold medal from Allahabad University. He served as a Lecturer of English at Allahabad University before qualifying in the Federal Public Commission in 1940 for Indian Police. He joined it on 7 April, 1940 at Moradabad when he was allotted U.P. cadre. After independence of India, Intelligence Bureau i.e. IB was set up with some police officers and Kao joined it in 1948 as Assistant Director. He was posted as Personal Security Officer of the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in that capacity.
An Air India International Super Constellation plane was chartered by the Chinese Government to carry its delegation for the Afro-Asian Conference scheduled to be held in Bandung, Indonesia from April 18 to 24, 1955. This conference was the brain-child of Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, Indian Prime Minister, where heads of 25 newly independent countries of Asia and Africa, were participating to forge a new alliance to promote Non-Aligned Movement i.e. NAM. Prior to the departure of this plane, some Chinese officials in Hong Kong leaked a report that Chinese Prime Minister Chou En-Lai was likely to travel in this plane. The plane took off from Kai Tak airport at Hong Kong on 11 April, 1955 and after five hours of its journey crashed in sea due to sabotage near Natuna islands which is an Indonesian territory. All 11 passengers and 5 crew members were killed in this crash. Three crew members survived as they swam for more than 9 hours to reach an isolated island and were saved by fishermen. These crewmen later revealed that they heard murmurs of sabotage at Hong Kong but neither the plane was re-checked nor any security drill took place at the airport by the security authorities of Hong Kong. Since, there were rumours that Chou En-Lai was likely to fly in this plane, this sabotage was construed as pre-mediated conspiracy to kill him by his adversaries and was thus spared of a ghastly end. His escape did not mitigate the gravity of crime committed at Hong Kong airport. There was strong Chinese reaction to the crucial question as to who perpetrated the sabotage and with what motives?
Three countries, namely, Britain, China and India were involved to unearth the mystery behind this sabotage. Fourth, Indonesia had a limited role except to the fact that crash took place in its territorial area in the sea. During this period, China did not have diplomatic relations with Britain and demanded Indian participation in the investigation of this sabotage. Jawaharlal Nehru deputed R.N.Kao, on the recommendation of B.N.Mullick, Director, IB, for this investigation at Hong Kong since Chou En-Lai was taking personal interest in this case.
R.N.Kao was involved in this investigation for more than 5 months whereupon it was found that Koumintang (KMT), the Formosa (Now Taiwan), secret agents engineered this sabotage to kill Chou En-Lai. R.N.Kao personally went to Beijing to brief Chou En-Lai about this investigation. Chou En-Lai was very much impressed with the investigation of Kao and hosted a dinner for him which was a rare gesture by the Head of State of that great country in honour of an officer of a much lower rank. He also presented Kao his personal seal as a souvenir for his brilliant role in this complex investigation. It was an arduous effort by Kao at international level at that young age of 37 years which proved an asset for him in his grooming for his future assignments. Kao developed some British MI6 officers as his source during this investigation which proved vital to him in future when he became head of R&AW.
Ghana, a coastal African country, became independent in 1957 from the occupation of the British. Its first President Dr.Kwame Nkrumah had development friendly relations with the then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru while they were engrossed in the formation of Non-Aligned Movement. Ghana inherited the colonial police from the British which was not trustworthy in the opinion of Nkrumah who had his agenda to social reconstruction of his country. In this process, he sought Nehru’s help to establish his country’s intelligence agency because he was wary to the loyalty of the erstwhile British Intelligence Officers who were acting as stooges of UK in his country.
Nehru agreed to help out Nkrumah and sent R.N.Kao in October, 1958 to establish Ghana’s intelligence set up. Kao formed the Foreign Service Research Bureau (FSRB) as an external and internal agency of Ghana. He worked there for one year and the residuary work was subsequently completed by K.S.Nair, another brilliant intelligence officer. Nkrumah was highly appreciative of Kao for working in tandem with naïve Ghanaians and burnt mid-night oil to make them capable and independent to handle intelligence set-up to his satisfaction. This was the first foray at international level by an Indian Intelligence Officer outside India and Kao brought laurels by displaying high sense of devotion to this accomplishment. Nkrumah lured Kao to give citizenship of his country in addition to other high ranking facilities which Kao politely declined. He was a true nationalist.
This liaison with Third World countries got more momentum when Kao became head of R&AW in 1968. During his tenure, R&AW trained intelligence operatives and police officers of many other African countries like Mauritius, Maldives, Seychelles, Uganda, Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Botswana. It also trained the officers of ANC of South Africa and SWAPO of Namibia. These co-operation among the intelligence agencies ushered in by Kao enhanced the reputation of Mrs. Indira Gandhi, the then Indian Prime Minister among African leaders. This was remarkable achievement of Kao to portray image of India in this region which has a far reaching impact on its foreign policy.
When the Marxist Janata Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) threatened to take over power in Sri Lanka in 1971, Kao on instruction of Mrs. Indira Gandhi, diffused the onslaught and Sri Lankan security forces managed to keep its control over JVP. This was another feather in his cap in this region to keep away Communist threat in India’s neighbourhood.
Kao had excellent rapport with Khad, the Afghan intelligence agency, which was instrumental in providing valuable information on Pakistan. At later stage, after Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, both these agencies R&AW and Khad maintained close liaison with KGB which was very effective in tracing training camps of Khalistani terrorists in NWFP areas of Pakistan in the beginning of eighties. So, R&AW got valuable information from Khad to trace these terrorist activities abetted by Pakistan against India from its territory. After this liaison with Afghan intelligence was scuttled by Taliban militants at the behest of Pakistan, this region has eluded from the reach of Indian intelligence for long time.
While serving in IB, Kao was instrumental in the formation of air intelligence gathering department. the Aviation Research Centre (ARC) in the beginning of 1964. After the debacle of 1962 war, there were allegations and counter-allegations about supply of inadequate intelligence by IB to the army. More so, there were no definite details about the might of Chinese Air Force and lack of Air Reconnaissance to detect the presence of Chinese army in Indian territories during this war. Kao prepared a blue print on this subject which was approved by Government of India and a new wing of air intelligence, the Aviation Research Centre (ARC) was set up to tab air-related activities of China and Pakistan. It is worthwhile to mention that CIA provided all logistical support to IB for the establishment of this agency because China was on the verge to become nuclear power. CIA was dependent on ARC to monitor Chinese activities of nuclear plans and air force capabilities.
Kao formed ARC as the Air Intelligence department which would conduct aerial surveillance, photography reconnaissance, imagery intelligence i.e. to keep vigil on borders through Air and lifting of SSB commandos in far flung areas bordering China. Kao brought airplanes in the ARC which were instrumental in the state of art of surveillance units of electronic nature fitted with long distance cameras. This mechanism was responsible for taking pictures of targets from long distances and high altitudes in China and Pakistan.
During the course of inception of ARC, US Air force helped India to make this agency functional by loaning the Hello Twin Courier to it. Subsequently, when R&AW was formed and Kao became its head, he included latest carriers like Russian IL-76 and AN-32 in the fleet of ARC to keep tab on Chinese and Pakistan borders. Now, ARC has latest surveillance and reconnaissance planes. It has included indigenous helicopters and Pilotless Target Aircrafts for air intelligence. So, Kao formulated a new air intelligence wing which has no parallel in many continents of the World.
OPERATION HAT: In 1962 war debacle, Indian Air force was lacking logistic air intelligence capabilities with the result movement of Chinese troops across the border could not be detected. India was humiliated in this short hit and return war by the Chinese. India lacked all sort of intelligence related to Chinese Air Force vis-à-vis Nuclear programme. In 1964, China conducted its first nuclear tests in Xinjiang province bordering India, Chinese foray in Nuclear warfare stunned not only India but the Americans whose intelligence never predicted such development. CIA at that time had reported that China was years away from acquiring such Nuclear capability. After this incident, both India and USA decided to keep tab on China and signed a secret pact to work together to monitor these activities of China. Kao played a decisive role in this pact. He was monitoring its functioning in India as well as in USA.
In this pursuit, India and USA launched this “Operation Hat” in September, 1964 whereupon an expedition was planned on Nanda Devi Mountain to plant a nuclear-powered Monitoring Station on the summit of 26600 fit height wherefrom it could detect the Chinese nuclear test programme over the border in Xinjiang Province. M.S.Kohli, a Navy Commander, working in the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) was selected as leader of the expedition. He was assisted by four officers of IB, HCS Rawat, Sonam Wangyal, Gurcharan Singh Bhangu and Sonam Gyats. All these officers were well trained mountaineers and winners of Arjuna Award in this field. This team was taken to America for training. They were taken to Elmendorf Air Base in Alaska where they were briefed about this operation. They were taken for mountaineering drills on Mount McKinley, the highest peak of America.
CIA and IB developed a Plutonium fitted device to track future nuclear and missile tests in China. This Plutonium device included 17 kilogram nuclear assemble and, Five Kilogram of Plutonium which powered the nuclear device. It would be pertinent to mention here that Six Kilograms of Plutonium was used in the Atomic Bomb which was dropped on Nagasaki town of Japan during Second World War wherein 74000 innocents were killed after this bomb exploded there.
This Mission was planned to carry five loads of 125 Pounds to the summit of Nanda Devi which were assemblies for a communication interpreter and an accompanying generator to be installed at the peak. The interpreter and the generator’s sensor had four transceivers to relay information to a base station on the planes in India and a six feet tall antenna to collect data from the Chinese test site. The generator was meant to convert radioactive heat into electricity. This generator was not a bomb which a trigger is required to explode was not present in it. But it was powered by radioactivity which was toxic to human beings. This device was manufactured by the US scientists and intelligence officers in USA. Indian govt. was to assist it on the peak of Nanda Devi mountain for monitoring inside China.
One CIA officer Bill McKniff was stationed at the base camp. CIA also deployed three American mountaineers to accompany the Indian team which were nuclear and signal experts. Thirty three Bhutias and nine Sherpas were brought from Sikkim who were experts in climbing the glaciers to carry the equipments and other paraphernalia meant for this operation.
B.N.Mullick, Director IB and his CIA counterparts were supposed to supervise the expedition from New Delhi and Washington. Since, Kohli was the leader of the expedition, the American team was also placed under him in this venture. Kohli was asked to report to Kao on hour to hour and daily basis during this expedition. One American technician, who had demonstrated the nuclear generator in Alaska during training to Indians, set up a relay station at the base camp to transmit the information gathered by the sensor to New Delhi and Washington.
This expedition started its mission on 24 September, 1965. Since, winter season had started, the climbers made slow and steady progress up to second week of October. On 16 October, when the expedition was about to reach its destination which was about 2000 feet away, the snow started falling at a big pace and visibility to the climbers became remote. Kohli leader of the expedition, sensing the danger of an avalanche, informed the situation to the authorities and got permission to stop the mission. It was decided to secure the generator and the sensor at a safe place so that they could carry this operation next year. These equipments were placed in a rock cavity and tied to the rock with nylon ropes. So, this mission was abandoned at camp number four where from the destination to place it was at camp number five.
This team under Kohli re-started this operation in May, 1966 to pick up the equipments from that place where these were placed last year and place them to the destination planned in the operation. When the team reached the camp four where these equipments were secured last year, they were shocked to find the equipments missing and the rock too was not there. It became evidently clear that the avalanche had swept away the rock to which equipments were tied. Next two years India and America teams jointly searched the traces of the nuclear device and other equipments without any success.
In 1978, details of this Operation Hat was revealed in an American magazine. This matter was debated in Indian Parliament. Morarji Desai, the then Prime Minister, constituted a committee of six scientists to investigate this expedition. These scientists were Dr. Atma Ram, Principal Scientific Officer to the PM, Home Sethna, Chairman of Atomic Energy Commission, Prof. M.G.K.Menon, Director General, DRDO, Dr. Raja Ramanna, Director, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Dr. V.Ramalingamswamy, Director General of Indian Council of Medical Research and Dr. A.K.Saha of the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics.
This committee report suggested that possibility of an accident involving the missing generator was minimal. This assessment was based on the details made available about the devices by the US agencies. The committee made recommendation to the Government to periodically monitor the environment near Nanda Devi to detect any radioactive radiation in the air, water and soil. It also suggested to develop new techniques to locate the device. It should be worthwhile to mention here that this device containing plutonium 238 could remain radioactive for about 500 years. Although, this operation is a forgotten incident but the impending danger of its havoc owing to the contents of this human-destruction material in the protective sheath, would loom on the future generation of this country for another five centuries. Govt. should consider to have a regular watch-dog mechanism on long term basis which should comprise the recent scholars from the nuclear scientists fraternity and qualified environmentalists who could keep regular track of events and materials originating from the place of this incident to the end in Bay of Bengal where river Ganges merges to the end point. Although chances of an environmental calamity seem low at the moment but in view of many ecological catastrophe and the massive radiation poisoning material existing in Himalayan region, regular hunting mission should be deployed with help from foreign experts to trace out this living atom bomb there.
Although this operation failed to take off and was thus abandoned due to natural calamity but had it become successful, India and USA would have been successful to tab all air and nuclear related capabilities of China. Such intelligence research are rare now but it was R.N.Kao who was an intelligence researcher and planned all such operation for the security interest of India. This operation planning was beyond imagination of his counterparts all over world during that period of time when resources were minimal.
In November, 1967, Mrs. Indira Gandhi decided to bifurcate IB to create an external intelligence outfit on the pattern of CIA. She was aware of the achievements of Kao in formation of intelligence agency of Ghana and also his investigation at Hong Kong of the Kashmir Princess Airplane sabotage case. Added to these two achievements, Kao was Personal Security Officer of Jawaharlal Nehru, first Prime Minister of India and father of Indira Gandhi since 1948. In view of this background, she selected Kao as head of the new organization. She directed Kao to submit a detailed proposal for the external intelligence agency.
Kao studied the intelligence system of various democratic countries since Indira Gandhi did not want to replicate IB functioning which she considered as police organization. Kao researched working of the USA, British, KGB of USSR, German, French, Japanese, French and Israel intelligence agencies and based on the available resources, prepared a pilot scheme which was flexible enough to include any intelligence requirement and was not in any way rigid in its functioning. There was least scope of a police organization in this scheme. Emphasis were focused to include new subjects for intelligence gathering in view of some new developments of strategic importance in the cold war period.
Due to intense rivalry in IB as a result of this proposed bifurcation, top hierarchy of IB tried to thwart this scheme and never cooperated with Kao. Despite all these odds, Kao prepared a blue-print for creating a new external intelligence agency and suggested its name as Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) to camouflage it with some academic organization so that secrecy about it could be maintained from public view. Government accepted this proposal and Kao started the new outfit with a skeleton staff of 250 employees transferred by IB as a result of bifurcation. K.Sankaran Nair, close friend of Kao, a competent head of Pakistan desk of IB, was appointed his deputy. R&AW was formally launched on 21 September, 1968 as a wing of Cabinet Secretariat.
After the formation of R&AW, Kao expanded its strength by creating some new branches which were henceforth not part of external intelligence in erstwhile IB. Many new divisions like Information, Economic, Political, Science and Technology etc. were created by Kao on the pattern of other foreign intelligence agencies. Structure of R&AW was exclusively a new one and amalgam of whatever Kao thought was good for it which based on the advanced foreign intelligence agencies although there were apprehensions that it was having some resemblance with CIA of USA. With the help of T.N.Kaul, Foreign Secretary, a friend of Kao, new posts were created for R&AW operatives in various countries in Indian Missions abroad including USA, UK and other strategic countries of Europe and in South-East Asia. Many police officers and Army officers were taken on deputation to these postings. A new school for language experts was opened. Numerous check-posts and offices were opened in various cities and border areas of India. Within a year of its formation, R&AW stretched its legs not only in India but on globe map due to hawk planning of Kao. So, R&AW was raring to go to its full strength in the first year of its inception under the able leadership of Kao and his devoted staff.
Soon after the formation of R&AW, Kao proposed to open a post of R&AW at Geneva Mission for secret liaison with MOSSAD because there were no diplomatic relations between India and Israel at that time and as such there were no exchange of political missions between them. This post was also meant for secret rendezvous destination for secret meeting with contacts of political, military and diplomatic level from neighbouring countries of India. Despite resistance from the Ministry of External Affairs Ministry, Kao persuaded Mrs. Indira Gandhi in this regard who ordered the creation of this post. This post continued to work as a liaison point for almost ten years. In addition to it, secret arrangement was made with MOSSAD to post one officer in New Delhi under the cover of a businessman from one of the South American countries. This secret liaison continued with Israel till the diplomatic relations were established between two countries. So, Kao felt the need of a proper liaison with MOSSAD which he maintained clandestinely in the absence of formal diplomatic relations between India and Israel.
There were some unverified reports that Kao as Advisor to Indira Gandhi, had planned with MOSSAD an operation to destroy the uranium enrichment plant at Kahuta in Pakistan like what Israeli Air Force did in 1981 in Iraq where it destroyed the French aided Osirak nuclear reactor. These prescient capabilities of Kao are beyond any imagination of the present R&AW hierarchy which is mired in gutter of bureaucratic tussle to denigrate this agency.
When Pakistan army started genocide of Bengali population in East Pakistan and millions started taking refuge on the borders inside India, on 25 March, 1971, the Indian Prime Minister, Smt. Indira Gandhi declared in the Parliament that it was not merely the suppression of movement but it was killing of unarmed people with tanks. She reiterated that she was watching the situation and would take action accordingly as and when what was required. The Indian Parliament passed a historic resolution on March 31, 1971 that: “This House records its profound conviction that the historic upsurge of the 75 million people of East Bengal will triumph. The House wishes to assure them that their struggle and sacrifices will receive the while-hearted sympathy and support of the people of India”.
In the middle of 1970, R&AW sources in Pakistan establishments had informed of impending military action in East Pakistan. Kao briefed Mrs. Indira Gandhi about these reports. After reviewing overall political situation of Pakistan during that period, she directed Kao to finalize a blue-print on the overall insurgency operations inside East Pakistan to help the Bengali population. Thereafter, Kao stepped up covert operations on the borders of East Pakistan. Many posts were opened to penetrate the Army set-up of Pakistan. Technical staff was deployed to monitor the messages between East and West Pakistan army and civil establishments. By the time elections were held in Pakistan in the beginning of 1971, R&AW was in full command to provide all internal assessment of Pakistan. Kao predicted land-slide victory of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in East Pakistan but indicated his apprehension of his becoming Prime Minister. Indira Gandhi had then confided with Kao that in case Mujib was prevented to rule Pakistan, she would liberate East Pakistan from the clutches of Military junta.
In this pursuit, Kao planned to stop the over-flights of Pakistan from West to East Pakistan which were carrying Pakistani soldiers for the impending army action. Kao, through one R&AW agent, got hijacked a plane Fokker Friendship Ganga of Indian Airlines from Srinagar to Lahore. This agent was depicted as a member of National Liberation Front of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. All passengers and crew members were sent back to India via Amritsar. As planned by R&AW, plane was blown up at Lahore airport in full view of world media. This incident overtly gave India the right opportunity, as planned by Kao, to ban the flights of Pakistan over Indian territory. This move hampered the Pakistan to send its troops by air to curb the political movement of Mujib in East Pakistan. This hijacking slowed down the arrival of Pakistan army through air route in East Pakistan.
When the influx of refugees increased after the crackdown of Pakistan army on the innocent East Bengal people in March, 1971, Indira Gandhi convened a secret meeting of Army Chief Sam Maneckshaw and R&AW Chief R.N.Kao. In this meeting she discussed the modus operandi to liberate East Bengal. When she asked comments of Maneckshaw, he replied that Indian Army had always been told by the political bosses that their role was defensive and meant to protect the territorial integrity. He added that if Army was to put in action in East Pakistan, special riverine operation and training was required wherein it was lacking. He cautioned for any premature operation in that war and repeat the mistakes of 1962 and 1965. When Mrs. Gandhi asked Maneckshaw as to how much time Indian Army would take for the offensive inside East Pakistan, he replied at least six months. She told the General to make preparation for the war and inform her when he was ready in his plan.
Mrs. Indira Gandhi, then asked R.N.Kao to prepare all possible grounds for the army for its final assault when clearance from General Maneckshaw was received for its readiness for the war. Soon, Kao submitted his already prepared blue-print fo form and train guerilla outfit for insurgency inside East Pakistan to harass Pak army prior to the Indian Army action. After getting approval from Mrs. Gandhi, Kao started the training of refugees of East Pakistan with R&AW operatives and other paramilitary forces on the borders of East Pakistan. Initially its name was suggested as Mukti fauj but was later changed as Mukti Bahini. This insurgency outfit was the biggest one trained by R&AW for guerilla activities inside East Pakistan. There were some other outfits namely the Mujeeb Bahini and Kader Bahini which were exclusively trained by R&AW commandos.
Kao cautioned Mujibur Rahman prior to the army onslaught on Bengali population on 25 March, 1971 with the result Mujib asked his close confidants to cross over to India where they were given all facilities at Calcutta and other adjoining places by R&AW. A provisional Bangladesh Government in exile was formed in Calcutta at Theater Road on 14 April, 1971 and the name of capital was given as Mujib Nagar. A Bangladesh Radio Station ‘Free Bengal Betal Kendra” was established at Mujib Nagar for the regular news to the people of East Bengal on the impending plans of the Government in exile and to coordinate other factions of the guerrilla movement who for lack of communication were stranded in far-flung areas of East Pakistan. Syed Nazrul Islam was named as Vice President and acting President in the absence of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Tajuddin Ahmed was appointed as Prime Minister. P.N.Banerjee, R&AW Joint Secretary at Calcutta, was given the overall charge to look after the government-in-exile of Bangladesh and provide all sort of help which they required for their covert and overt activities. Colonel M.A.G.Osmani was made the provisional Chief of Staff of the Bangladesh Army and in that capacity, the Chief of all freedom fighters and head of Mukti Bahini by the end of April. Osmani was highly respected by Indian intelligence and army because of his high patriotic sense, his loyalty to Mujib and commanded respect among all and sundry. Rest is history. Mukti Bahini and other guerilla outfits played vital role in demoralizing Pakistan army with the result Indian Army found smooth sailing when army action was launched to liberate Bangladesh.
In nutshell, Bangladesh liberation was planned by two war strategists of Mrs. Indira Gandhi, Kao and Maneckshaw, in two phases. Phase I was Guerilla Operation which was planned and executed by R&AW and Phase II when Indian Army entered East Pakistan and humiliated Pakistan army to surrender its 93000 soldiers. Kao had excellent rapport with Maneckshaw. Both had their offices in South Block near to the Prime Minister’s. They worked in tandem and usually went into others office without any prior appointment to discuss the war strategy. Phase I of this liberation war belonged to R&AW which trained a guerrilla fore of more than 1,00,000 Bengali population to harass the Pakistan Army before the final war was fought. These guerrillas fought the Pakistani forces for eight months and totally demoralized them for a conventional war. Special Frontier Force of R&AW independently started operations in the Chittagong Hill tract and liberated this region from Pak Army. This is the unique achievement of R&AW which has no parallel in the intelligence history of the World. This happened due to the matriculate planning and execution by Kao who has no equal to his intellect. R&AW was created just two and half years ago and lacked in strength, equipments etc. In spite of all odds, Kao accomplished this feat with a team of his able and devoted juniors like K.Sankaran Nair, P.N.Banerjee, Brigadier M.B.K.Nair and other team of hardcore operatives. R&AW serving officers penetrated deep inside East Pakistan to train the Mukti Bahini and even snapped communication lines deep inside at various places. Post-second World War events have proved that CIA or KGB or MOSSAD did not figure in any big war in comparison to the contribution and achievement of these unsung heroes of R&AW of India under the dynamic leadership of R.N.Kao in 1971 Bangladesh liberation war. So, Kao and his dedicated team played a very key and decisive role in liberation of Bangladesh which is a rare event in the history of R&AW and has no parallel in the World.
At the time of independence, erstwhile Sikkim King Tashi Namgyal was exploiting the ethnic imbalance of its population which was 75% Nepalese, 13% Lepchas and 11% Bhutias by co-opting his stooges in his administration. His main aim was to protect his more than half of the land of Sikkim which was in his possession. Since, he was liberal and moderate, Sikkim population continued to live in harmony with him. There were hidden voices against this exploitation till British left India. There was no political party in Sikkim at that time. India-Sikkim Treaty a replica of the erstwhile British arrangement with Sikkim was signed on 5 December, 1950 to go ahead with what was earlier mandated with British. Sikkim State Congress, a newly formed party, was raising the demand of merger of Sikkim with India, felt disillusioned on this development. When leaders of this party met rulers in New Delhi to raise this demand, they were advised to keep the demand of accession of Sikkim in abeyance and it continued to be a protectorate as per this treaty.
Sikkim State Congress continued to grow its strength as the only formidable political party despite many disputes with the King. When Tashi Namgyal died in 1963, he was succeeded by his son Palden Thondup Namgyal who was a widower. The new King married an American lady Hope Cooke. This marriage obviously made Indian intelligence more active in Sikkim since there was apprehension of CIA presence after this marriage. According to sources of R&AW, at the time of this marriage, there was no evidence of Hope’s link with CIA but the scale of this marriage celebration and presence of foreigners there, alarmed IB.
Political scenario in Sikkim saw sea changes after this marriage. Hope infused a feeling in King to attain an independent status of a country for Sikkim. In this pursuit, in 1965, the title of King was changed to Chogyal which meant righteous ruler or the defender of faith. This was hidden agenda of Hope to become de-facto queen of a state. This was “American Influence” in Sikkim politics in the records of IB. In this tacit ill-design planning, she tried to mobilize local population and floated a scholar body the Youth Study Forum aimed at the need to preserve identity of Sikkim away from Indian protectorate. She used foreign pressure on India to bring Sikkim at par with Bhutan. She influenced Chogyal to review Treaty of 1950. So, arrival of this lady on the political scene of Sikkim was main reason of India’s worry to maintain status-quo with King. This was primary reason of merger of Sikkim with India.
Another threat looming in this region was the presence of large scale Chinese soldiers on Sikkim-Tibet border which was a serious security concern to India. Although, China never confronted the boundary with Sikkim but has open reservation on the defence protection of Sikkim by India. Even during the 1962 arms conflict, China did not intrude in this border. Thereafter, three minor arms skirmishes took place between the Indian and Chinese security forces till 1971but there was no major clash on this border. However, after the victory of 1971 Bangladesh liberation, Indira Gandhi discussed with her advisors including R.N.Kao on China’s betrayal to Pakistan in this war. Pakistan was hopeful of an army action on northern border of India by China which never took place to their utter dismay. So, the defence of Sikkim was a paramount compulsion for India as it was the shortest route from Tibet to the Gangetic plains. So, Indira Gandhi was determined to merge Sikkim with India on the advice of her advisors among whom Kao was more prominent. It was strategic move because once Sikkim becomes part of India, it could take China politically and militarily with impunity. In this process, the unprovoked regular firing by China since 1963 on Sikkim border was the second reason for the merger of Sikkim with India by Mrs. Indira. Gandhi.
In addition to these two serious security considerations, in September, 1972, Mrs. Indira Gandhi discussed the on-going internal squabbling of Sikkim with P.N.Haksar, her Principal Secretary and R.N.Kao. After a long deliberation, she asked Kao to come out with the suggestion whether he would be able to manage this situation for the subsequent merger of Sikkim with India. Kao after consultation with his juniors in Calcutta and Gangtok prepared a comprehensive assessment of the prevailing situation and submitted his plan of proposed secret operation to Mrs. Indira Gandhi after a fortnight. Indira Gandhi approved this operation and Kao immediately started action on it. However, Kao got appointed Kewal Singh, his friend, as the Foreign Secretary for the smooth functioning of this operation at diplomatic and political level.
Sikkim was merged with India and President of India put his seal on it on 16 May, 1975 and Palden Thendup Namgyal, the Chogyal of Sikkim was ceased to be the ruler of the Namgyal dynasty which ruled Sikkim for 333 years. Comprehensive details of this operation have been given by me in my book “Mission R&AW”. This is first time revelation of this top secret operation for the archives of historians.
This was the second biggest operation of R&AW under Kao which was meticulously implemented by him along with his three senior officers P.N.Baneree, Joint Director of Eastern Region at Calcutta, Ajit Singh Syali who later became R&AW head and G.B.S. Sidhu who retired as Special Secretary. This was a top secret operation. Sankaran Nair, deputy of Kao, told me that he was not even briefed by Kao about this operation. Operationally, no single agency of the World, be it CIA, MOSSAD etc. no such big territory of more than 3000 sq. miles has ever been merged by any intelligence agency to any country. This was another feather in the cap of legendary R.N.Kao which is rare in the books of world intelligence.
Your honour would observe from the above details that Shri R.N.Kao built up R&AW from scratch in 1968 to a formidable intelligence agency which played havoc with Pakistan army in the liberation of Bangladesh. He was epitome of a gentleman but ruthless in his approach when the interest of India was concerned. He lived inconspicuously after his retirement and left this world equally inconspicuously. He had tremendous vision and was legend in the world intelligence fraternity. But to utter misfortune, his achievements for this country were never recognized due to some unknown reasons. This unsung hero has to be recognized in view of his remarkable contribution for the country and should be awarded with an award and that too of BHARAT RATNA. It would not be out of place to mention when musicians, film personality, sportsman leave aside other fields have been recognized by Indian government why a personality from the Intelligence fraternity should not be bestowed this award and for that there is none other than late Shri R.N.Kao for it. So, kindly take this fact into your consideration and recommend it at the earliest.
With kind regards,
( R.K. Yadav )
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