4 R&AW Officers who Vanished or Defected While Working

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There were two incidents in R&AW when two of its senior officers were won over by CIA to get inside information of this agency. These officers were K V Unikrishnan, a director level IPS officer, who was arrested in June 1987 for giving classified information to 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 second case, Rabinder Singh, an ex army Major, who was working as Joint secretary, fled USA via Nepal with the help of CIA. Both these officers were however, dismissed from the service.

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

They defected on legal documents and R&AW hierarchy in particular and the govt. 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 their sensitive desk. In this regard, the author made detail enquiries from some former officers of R&AW and found following spice vanishing from India in foreign countries.

Sikandar Lal Malik- Personal secretary of R N Kao

Defection of Sikandar Lal Malik to USA is one of the most sensitive cases in the history of R&AW. Malik joined intelligence bureau in 1958 as personal assistant of Kao. After the formation of R&AW in 1968, Malik too, was transferred as personal Secretary of Kao, while serving with Kao and some senior officers were behind his blood due to this reason. There were some incidents of indiscipline which made him unpopular among his colleagues.

Due to his closeness with Kao, no one dared to take any sort of action against him although Sankaran Nair, number 2 of Kao had developed a strong disliking for him due to his rustic behaviour.

In March 1975, when Kao was abroad, Malik was caught redhanded by Sankaran Nair, with a lady in a safehouse of R&AW. After this incident, Nair wanted to sack him from service but generoisty 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 USA in the Indian Mission at New York, with the blessings of Kao.

After completion of three years of its tenure at New York, Malik was supposed to return India but he managed his stake in 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 for an indefinite period of time, when he stays there for five years, therefore regardless of the status of stay, legal or illegal. Malik returned to India and sought retirement from service.

Malik settled in USA permanently after his retirement from R&AW. It was ridiculous on the part of Indian govt. to allow him to return to USA knowing well that he was personal secretary of Kao for 17 years and was knowing many sensitive information about R&AW. It is beyond imagination how much damage he could have done to the country.

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 GC Saxena, 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 at London in the early 80s. On his recommendation, Sehgal too was sent there over the seniority of many capable officers.

While serving at London, Sehgal was involved in many unethical activities like womanizing and gambling. He was spending his salary at race course as a result of which he was in heavy debt. 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 was made to look like an accident.

He returned to R&AW headquarters after completion of his assignment in London when GC Saxena was chief of R&AW in 1983. Suddenly, Sehgal disappeared from his duties and was never traced there after. He was spotted in London afterwards where he was found living in a comfortable manner. He neither resigned his job and nor sort 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 instance of GC Saxena.

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 former defence officer. He was working as assistant director on the sensitive Pakistan desk from quiet sometime after resigning from army. During the course of surveillance by the counter intelligence 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 residents and was never traced thereafter.

Subsequently, it was discovered after thorough investigation that Soni had migrated to Canada without resigning and taking prior permission of R&AW and there was no inkling of his migration to Canada in R&AW because account section kept depositing his salary atleast for three months even after he was absent from duties.

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

The following four points were taken from the book Mission R&AW by RK Yadav by R&AW.