R K Yadav left the Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW) in 1989 with the reputation of being one of the toughest spies in the outfit. As a Class I officer recruited in 1973, Yadav served on the China desk and various other postings in Rajasthan and Punjab. Sources say he was close to R&AW founder-director R N Kao and his successor K Sankaran Nair.
Although little is known about the functioning of R&AW, Yadav in his upcoming tell-all book ‘Mission R&AW’ has given explicit details, including vanished R&AW spies and the external Intelligence agency’s role during the 1975 Emergency.
Although the CIA was found directly involved in compromising two R&AW officers Rabinder Singh and K V Unnikrishnan, Yadav claims that at least eight other R&AW officers managed to clandestinely migrate and settle in foreign countries like the US and Canada with the help of their spy agencies. Sikander Lal Malik, personal secretary to Kao for 17 years, managed to get two years’ extension after completing his mandatory tenure in New York.
Malik got a green card with the help of US officials, and resigned from the R&AW. Yadav says Malik settled in the US permanently in 1976 and he could have been debriefed enough to have extensive damage to Indian Intelligence.
Another senior field officer Ashok Sathe was recruited by the CIA while posted at the Indian Mission at Ulan Bator in Mongolia. Sathe was covering China operations and was later transferred to Khorramshahr, Iran.
While serving there, Sathe was caught embezzling secret funds and was recalled. He set fire to his office, destroying all the secret documents before departure and subsequently retired from R&AW in 1977.
“Soon after retirement, it was discovered that Sathe had a green card. He settled in California,” Yadav claims in his book.
There has been much speculation over the fate of Rabinder Singh, the R&AW agent who was spying for the CIA, when he disappeared before he was apprehended for spying for the US.
He was a joint secretary in R&AW at the time. Singh flew to America from Kathmandu along with his wife on May 7, 2004 using a fake identity in the name of Mr and Mrs Rajpal Prasad Sharma.
The R&AW unit at Kathmandu did nothing despite clear intelligence on Singh’s escape plans. The R&AW even managed to get copies of their visas and embarkation cards.
These documents reveal that the CIA on April 7, 2004, issued US passport number 017384251 to Singh. His wife Parminder Kaur was also given a US passport on the same day in the name of Deepa Kumar Sharma. Both boarded Austrian Air flight number 5032 on May 7, 2004, from Kathmandu. Singh was assisted by CIA operative David M Vacala.