Top 8 R&AW Officer who Got Away from India | Strange Military Stories

There were two incidents in R&AW when two of its senior officers were won over by the CIA to get inside information of this agency. 

Top 8 R&AW Officer who Got Away from India

These officers were K.V. Unnikrishnan, a Director level IPS officer, who was arrested in June 1987 for giving classified information to the CIA. He was put in prison under National Security Act for one year and was released subsequently when Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi let him off for further prosecution. 

In the second case, Rabinder Singh, an ex-army Major, who was working as Joint Secretary in R&AW, fled the USA via Nepal with the help of the CIA. Both these officers were, however, dismissed from service. 

CIA was found involved directly in these two incidents but there were other instances when R&AW officers managed their settlement in foreign countries like the USA and Canada with the help of the sleuths of these countries and abruptly left their job in R&AW. 

Some of these officers were working on sensitive posts in R&AW before their disappearance to these countries. They defected on legal documents and R&AW hierarchy in particular and the Government of India, in general, watched these incidents haplessly without getting involved in any controversy to extradite them from these governments. But, the extent of damage and level of its magnitude would never be known to R&AW in view of their working on sensitive desks. 

In this regard, some former officers of R&AW and found the following spies vanishing from India in foreign countries.

1. Sikander Lal Malik (Personal Secretary of R.N. Kao)

The defection of Sikander Lal Malik to the USA is one of the most sensitive cases in the history of R&AW. 

Malik joined Intelligence Bureau in 1958 as the personal assistant of Kao. After the formation of R&AW in 1968, Malik too was transferred as the personal secretary of Kao. Malik was arrogant while serving with Kao and some senior officers were behind his blood due to this reason.

There were some incidents of indiscipline that made him unpopular among his colleague. Due to his proximity with Kao, no one dared to take any sort of action against him although Sankaran Nair, number two of Kao had developed a strong disliking for him due to his rustic behaviour.

In March 1975, when Kao was abroad, Malik was caught red-handed by Sankaran Nair, with a lady in a safe house of R&AW. After this incident, Nair wanted to sack him from service but the generosity of Kao prevailed upon him to take a lenient view due to his long association with Kao. Malik was sent on a foreign posting to the USA in the Indian Mission at New York, with the blessings of Kao.

After completion of three years of his tenure in New York, Malik was supposed to return to India but he managed his stay in the USA by getting an extension of one year twice citing personal problems. According to US laws, a person is automatically entitled to get a green card—a work permit for an indefinite period of time, when he stays there for five years regardless of the status of stay, legal or illegal. Malik returned to India and sought retirement from service. 

Malik settled in the USA permanently after his retirement from R&AW. It was ridiculous on the part of the Indian Government to allow him to return USA knowing well that he was the personal secretary of Kao for seventeen years and was in the know of much sensitive information about R&AW. It is beyond imagination how much damage he could have done to the country.

2. M.S. Sehgal (Senior Field Officer)

M.S. Sehgal was a head constable in Delhi Police prior to joining IB. He was subsequently transferred to R&AW on the recommendation of G.C. Saxena, who later on became R&AW head. 

Sehgal used to work for the household activities of Saxena due to which he got rapid promotions and became Senior Field Officer in R&AW. Saxena was on a foreign assignment in Indian Mission in London in the early eighties. On his recommendation, Sehgal too was sent there over the seniority of many capable officers. While serving in London, Sehgal was involved in many unethical activities like womanizing and gambling. He was spending his salary at the racecourse as a result of which he was in heavy debts. He paid these loans after he received money from an insurance company following the death of his wife. 

However, there were rumours inside R&AW that his wife died in mysterious circumstances which were made to look like an accident. He returned to R&AW headquarters after completion of his assignment in London when G.C. Saxena was Chief of R&AW in 1983. 

Suddenly, Sehgal disappeared from his duties and was never traced thereafter. He was spotted in London afterwards where he was found living in a comfortable manner. He neither resigned from his job nor sought retirement but vanished from R&AW as a serving officer. R&AW too did not make efforts to extradite him from London probably at the insistence of G.C. Saxena.

3. Major R.S. Soni (Assistant Director)

This was one of the most intriguing cases of neglect and suspicion in R&AW. Major R.S. Soni was a former defence official. He was working as Assistant Director on the sensitive Pakistan desk for quite some time after resigning from the army. During the course of surveillance by the Counter Intelligence Branch of R&AW, Soni was suspected of passing classified information to ISI agents in New Delhi. 

While R&AW sleuths wanted to arrest him red-handed, he became suspicious and disappeared from his residence and was never traced thereafter. Subsequently, it was discovered after a thorough investigation that Soni had migrated to Canada without resigning and taking prior permission of R&AW.

There was no inkling of his migration to Canada in R&AW because the accounts section kept depositing his salary at least for three months even after he was absent from his duties.

4. Ashok Sathe (Senior Field Officer)

CIA recruited him while Ashok Sathe was on two foreign assignments from R&AW. He was working on the China desk prior to his first posting in Indian Mission at Ulan Bator in Mongolia from where he was covering China operations. 

Later on, he was transferred to Khorramshahr in Iran. While in Iran, Ashok Sathe’s senior at Tehran found him embezzling secret fund by footing bills of fake agents and entertainment activities. 

When he was confronted on this account, he had a brawl with his senior at Tehran Mission. He was recalled prematurely to R&AW headquarters for this act of indiscipline. But prior to his departure from Khorramshahr, he set his office on fire and sent a report that due to a short circuit, all his records had been damaged in the fire.

After his return to R&AW headquarters, Sathe was subjected to a departmental enquiry for his acts of indiscipline in Iran. He confronted the authorities and resigned from his post portraying it as if it was a protest. Subsequently, R&AW authorities discovered that while serving in Iran, he was in league with his CIA counterparts. Soon after seeking retirement, Sathe was found to have a green card and got settled in California. This was the first known case wherein the CIA got settled an R&AW officer in the USA.

5. Shamsher Singh Maharajkumar (IPS Officer)

Although, this case was not of any defection to a foreign country but it was one of the first of its kind when a senior IPS officer, that too from a former princely family of India, resigned abruptly from the coveted post of Director. Shamsher Singh was a 1957 batch IPS officer serving on deputation in R&AW. He was a former scion of the royal family of Nabha state in Punjab.

He was first posted at Islamabad in Pakistan as R&AW head in Indian High Commission. Subsequently, he got another assignment in Bangkok before he was sent to Canada for another foreign posting. 

While in Canada, he managed to procure an international passport for himself. He did not inform R&AW authorities about this passport. Shamsher Singh quietly returned to India in October 1976 and resigned from his service at a very young age. He slipped back to Canada and settled there.

6. M.I. Bhaskar (Senior Field Officer)

Bhaskar was sent on a foreign posting to Tokyo in Japan. Curiously, he managed another assignment to Washington concurrently without coming to R&AW headquarters. 

Normally, a three years tenure was fixed for such foreign postings after that one had to service in India for quite some time. But in the case of Bhaskar, this practice was overlooked or managed since he joined Washington posting directly from Tokyo. Bhaskar too managed a green card for himself while serving in the Indian Mission. 

After completion of his terms in the US, he returned to India, resigned from service before settling down in Washington.

7. B.R. Vaccher (Senior Field Officer)

Vachher was the younger brother of a former Inspector General of Punjab Police. Due to his high-level connections, first, he got a foreign posting in Nepal and later served in the USA. Curiously, Vacher was a bachelor who was barred from any foreign assignment in R&AW for security considerations. But this condition was waived in the case of Vachher and he was sent on two such assignments. 

Vachher too managed a green card of the US. He came to India in 1977, resigned from his job and managed to settle in America.

8. R.J. Khurana (Additional Secretary)

Khurana was posted as Counsellor in Indian Embassy in Washington in the USA. He was working on a sensitive Pakistan desk of R&AW prior to this stint. After completion of his tenure, he returned alone to Delhi in R&AW but did not bring his family members from the USA. 

When this fact came to the knowledge of R&AW authorities, he was asked to clarify the reasons thereof. He put forward some flimsy excuses which did not satisfy the authorities. Although he was kept away from the R&AW headquarters to an obscure posting, no disciplinary action was taken against him since he was retiring after some months. 

Khurana migrated to the USA after retirement from R&AW. It was later discovered that he and his family members were green card holders of the USA which he managed while posted in the Indian Embassy in Washington. There are rumours in R&AW that the CIA managed his migration to the USA. 

R&AW could not keep a tab on his activities while in the USA but it is a matter of serious concern that such a senior officer of this agency was got settled in the USA and Indian The government remained silent on such a sensitive matter.

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