BY RSN SINGH
When the senior officer in R&AW Mr Ravinder Singh was spirited away with his family by the Americans, the then National Security Advisor of India had commented that the issue was not that there was a mole but why was he so important to the US establishment. In the instant case the same question becomes relevant, i.e. why Sangeeta Richard, a domestic help of the Deputy Consul General (DCG) Devyani Khobragade, was so important to the Americans that her family was whisked away to the US two days before the criminal treatment meted out to the DCG by the authorities in that country. Was Sangeeta recruited by the US Intelligence Agencies to gain information of Indian diplomatic mission in the US?
The desperation to protect Sangeeta Richard and her family by the US authorities says it all. Such desperation betrays that possibly Sangeeta had been recruited and had been converted into what is called in Intelligence parlance an ‘asset’. Plausibly this asset was discovered and uncovered by the Consul General. It could be this fact that compelled Devyani to seek intervention of Delhi High Court, which issued an interim injunction against Sangeeta, preventing her from taking legal action in the US. Further the Metropolitan Magistrate of the South District Court issued an arrest warrant against her and requested the US government to locate her. The sudden grant of Visa and escape of Sangeeta’s family members to the US implies that the authorities in that country were closely monitoring the situation with regards to its ‘asset’ and its family. This abrupt development may have been engendered by the imminent possibility of the Indian judiciary tightening its noose on the family members of Sangeeta.
It is therefore evident that Sangeeta was not absconding but in the safe-custody of the American authorities. The exposure of such assets, it must be remembered compromises the entire espionage framework of the hostile country. Any price therefore to protect the framework is less.
Devyani, it seems has paid the price.
The entire family could not have been spirited out of India, the manner in which it was done, without engineering some extremely sensational diplomatic incident, which carried both the stamp of morality and the object of provocation.
In any country in the world such incidents involving diplomats is rare of the rarest. Say in India, if a diplomat, at any level, of any country were to be involved in an accident, for instance running over a pedestrian by an automobile the matter would be reported right up the chain, i.e. from constable to SHO to Assistant Commission to Deputy Commission to Commissioner of Police to Home Secretary to Home Minister and finally to the Prime Minister. It is because the factor of ‘diplomatic immunity’ is of overwhelming consideration.
In Devyani’s case, therefore, it was not a matter of ‘law taking its natural course’, but a clear case of deliberate provocation which entailed hand cuffing and stripping her. India has been provoked and outraged, the Americans have tried to gain a moral high-ground and the US intelligence ‘asset’ or ‘assets’ (Sangeeta and her other family members) have gained sympathy and credibility. A perfect script!
The attempt by the US to acquire a high-moral ground is nauseating. The morality part in favour of the Devyani has been more than upheld by the Court’s stance in India. They would not have taken the position they did, if it was a matter only confined to wages. The espionage angle seems to be very strong in the instant case.
Morality and the US diplomacy have always been contradiction in terms, rather antagonistic. If the US was so concerned about the sensitivities and laws of other countries, it would have extradited David Headley to India. If it was so sensitive about disparity in wages, it would not have outsourced the job of call centers to other countries. Indian youth working in these call centers spend sleepless nights to make America move during the day, for pittance.
Moreover the discerning people of India have abundantly understood the consummate skill with which American spin-doctors create agendas for destabilizing a country so that the economic and other strategic agendas could be pursued. It began with a concept called ‘march of democracies’. It then graduated to ‘human rights’. Then many countries like India were told that they were sitting on the mountain of ‘AIDS bomb’. Now the latest in the inventory is a concept called ‘modern slaves’. This theme is being flogged on Western television channels. It seeks to say that 50 percent of India constitutes ‘modern slaves’, who are hostage to the remaining. This is clever device to drive a wedge right through the middle of the Indian population. It is also a propaganda to convey the impression in the world that most countries including India are despotic, cruel and uncivilized.
With regards to slaves, it is another matter that the Father of America, George Washington, bequeathed his property to his wife, which included ‘slaves’.
The purpose of this article is not to delve into the details of the wages angle being justified to outrage the diplomatic and personal sanctity of Devyani. Nevertheless, it would be pertinent to mention that the arrangement and contract between the DCG and the Sangeeta Richard is laudable by any standards, and anybody who questions it is doing so due to motivated considerations.
The US has used this device of Sangeeta Richard to propagate this concept of ‘modern slaves’ and thus cause disaffection in the Indian society. In this bid they are being served by many Indian-Americans, who love to decry their motherland at the slightest behest of their adopted fatherland. Echoing the same ‘modern slaves’ concept but in different tenor, is a newly created political party, known to be receiving huge funding from American entities. Apart from the Maoists, the Church and the jihadis this is a new political US leverage.
This author has taken the opportunity to stick his neck out and proclaim with all the emphasis that Devyani issue is only a veneer to protect a espionage network.
(RSN Singh is a former military intelligence officer who later served in the Research & Analysis Wing. The author of two books: Asian Strategic and Military Perspective and Military Factor in Pakistan, he is also a Guest Blogger with Canary Trap)