Commander Jadhav is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery that’s stuck inside an enigma. (To para-phrase Winston Churchill)
The mystery of Hussein Mubarak Patel is so fascinating, with unbearable suspense that we have to do our best to distill fact from fiction.
Given the information in the public domain; especially information that does not originate from Pakistan, all of us who are following this fascinating episode of “The Spy Who Isn’t” knows that:
- Hussein Patel is also known as Commander (Retired) Kulbhushan Jadhav of the Indian Navy.
- That he is an Indian National carrying a valid Indian Passport, that has been stamped with a valid residency permit for Chabahar Free Zone (CFZ) in Iran.
- That he had a valid and legally registered business in CFZ and was known to have a business of trading in commodities between India and Iran.
- That he was the owner of a small ship (actually a Dhow) with a cargo capacity of 3,500 Metric Tons.
- That Pakistan claims to have “caught” him in Balochistan, and have accused him of being a R&AW agent who was single-handedly trying to destabilize the Balochistan region that has been illegally occupied by Pakistan since 1948.
- That, according to Pakistan Intelligence, Patel / Jadhav has “confessed” to all the “crimes” that Pakistan has accused him of committing.
- That the Indian Govt. acknowledges that as Commander Jadhav, he served in the Navy and took premature retirement.
Given all of the above, it is necessary to know facts as they stand in reality, and these are not hard to find. In India, all it takes is a charming smile, a gentle manner and lots of respect towards others; to find out reality. Armed with these tools, we just have to visit the Hiranandani Gardens residence area of Commander. Jadhav to get hold of the facts.
And they are:
- Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav had indeed served in the Indian Navy. He had an above average career that kept him mostly confined to shore duties, and that his capabilities were not good enough to get him promoted to the rank of Captain. Being denied the promotion, he sought pre-mature retirement to pursue a career in business.
- For a couple of years since his retirement, he spent most of his time in his native place where he guided youngsters in their quest to join the armed forces and tutored them in their studies.
- Around 2011, he acquired his Dhow in Kandla (some say he had a local partner) and started a small business of trading in commodities with Iran. He had moderate success there and was able to build a reliable reputation for trading in Rice, machinery parts and vehicle parts from India and import Bitumen and Pistachio from Iran to India. As per people who were his customers, he was prompt in his payments and strict in his business policies.
- It was in 2012, that he and his immediate family converted to Muslim religion. The reasons why he did so are not clear, but opinions gathered from people who know him vary. Some say that he converted because he was just spiritually attracted to Sufi-ism. Others say he converted with the hope that it would allow him to increase his business prospects with his Iranian customer base, many of whom are conservative Shia Muslims. Most agree that he converted into the Shia branch of Muslim religion, but nobody has given that fact any importance in India. Whatever the reason, his business did seem to be doing well, since he was now flying back and forth to Iran, by air. What stands out starkly clear is that he never did anything illegal all these years. All-in-all, he was just another average businessman making a living, honestly and within the law.
And this is where the “spy” story gets its spice. Someone in the grey and murky world of spies and their nefarious activities, found Commander Jadhav who legally became Hussein Patel; a perfect dummy for an international scandal. The background was almost tailor-made for a sensational spy story. Here was an average, early-retired Navy officer, who on his own had changed his name and religion and made constant and continuous trips to Iran. Moreover, since he had absolutely no connection with the Government of India, he actually knows nothing of importance. When “caught”, he would easily be a lamb-to-the-slaughter and nobody would be the wiser. And with this, we have the frame-work for a possibly unsanctioned black operation.
There are four intelligence agencies that are pro-active in the Iran – Balochistan – Pakistan belt. Israel and USA who have a constant watch over Iran, Pakistan who need to keep vicious control over Balochistan, and India who keep a constant watch over Pakistan and somewhat towards Iran (mostly to safe-guard India’s economic interests). By the process of elimination, we can drop Israel from our list of suspects, since Israel is not known to initiate any operation that does not benefit them directly. That leaves us with the USA / Pak combine on one hand and certain elements of Indian intelligence services on the other. And, thereby we have our suspects.
But what would be the motive? For Pakistan, the motive would be to deflect as much attention as possible from the confessions of David Headley, the prime convict in the 26 November 2008 terrorist attack on Mumbai. Headley’s confession via video-conference from USA, on an almost daily basis, is revealing the involvement of Pakistani Intelligence Services (especially its ISI) in supporting and sponsoring the terrorist attack on Mumbai. Pakistan has also been caught red-handed in the latest attack by terrorists on Pathankot air-base attack, where again there is solid proof that this attack was also sponsored by ISI and Pakistan. Any incident to deflect attention from this damning reality would be a welcome relief to Pakistan.
For USA, the motive is to keep Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies happy and in a good mood, for their operations in Afghanistan / Pakistan border areas, in their never ending “war-on-terror”. So we can safely assume that someone in the US / Pak Intelligence joint task force community, in all probability thought up this hare-brained scheme to manufacture an international incident, and Pakistan very happily agreed to it. (I am sure that the US Govt. will deny this forcefully, as can be expected).
Now, with a plan in place and an innocent man to hang it on, it only needed to be executed at the correct time. But, hold on. How did the US/Pak team know about Patel / Jadhav? How did they identify him? That’s where the finger of suspicion points towards elements in the Indian intelligence services. The person or persons who offered Patel / Jadhav gift-wrapped to the Pakis had to have been someone who knew him while he was in service, and in all probability kept in friendly touch with him post his retirement. They knew his intimate details and knew how to twist around facts to suit their narrative. A wise reader will ask, why will Indians do such a dastardly thing? There can be any number of reasons. Maybe the Indian officers did not like Jadhav. Maybe they were offended that he converted to be a Muslim. But, in all probability, it was just the lure of the mighty dollar and a post – retirement life in USA. (History has shown us that India has had quite a few R&AW officers who betrayed India for the comforts of USA).
The Paki services claim that Patel / Jadhav was caught in Balochistan. His business associates say that he was a law- abiding man, thus he would never cross over illegally – unless the circumstances were compelling. Here is where the details get murky. What would be a very compelling reason for Patel to enter Balochistan? It had to be a big, lucrative business deal. Traders in that part of the world deal in cash, usually in Euros. There are lucrative business opportunities in supply of hospital equipment, medicines and other necessary life- support items at high margins. That would be a very compelling reason for Patel to risk crossing the border without a Pakistani Visa.
Even the Pakistanis admit that Patel was carrying a valid passport. What they are trying to convince the world is that the passport of Hussein Mubarak Patel is a fake. In reality, it is not.
Every criminal leaves behind a clue or a series of clues that separates reality from fiction.
The first mistake was made by the Pakistani establishment. In a rush to beat their rather hollow chests on the international front, they over exaggerated their story. Rather than being just a “spy” caught in Pakistan, they upgraded him to being a “terrorist who was going to de-stabilize a big chunk of Pak occupied territory”. With complete confusion, various Pakistani officials accused Patel / Jadhav of transporting arms and ammunition to Balochistan rebels (he was not even carrying a pocket knife) to dealing in millions of dollars (the Pakistanis don’t know where that money is right now) to Patel / Jadhav owing a jewellery store in Iran (nobody in Pakistan seems to know where that is located).
Shameless lies, damned lies and stupid lies, is all that defines the Pakistani role.
And most importantly, they either forgot or had no idea how to handle the issue of the Dhow that Patel owns. That 3,500 MT ship has just vanished since Patel’s arrest. So there is the whole big issue of a missing dhow that the Pakis have to answer for.
When the Pakistanis started tripping over their own feet, they tried to induce the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to issue a statement of support in their favor. He refused to be drawn into this sloppy incident and slapped them right back, stating clearly that no laws of Iran had been violated and that the “spy” matter was between India and Pakistan to handle. The Pakistanis must have then looked towards their US co-conspirators for help, but they had vanished into the shadows as soon as the operation started to crumble.
The Pakistani authorities then brought Mr. Patel / Commander Jadhav before the TV cameras, where he admitted to the world of being an Indian spy and said that his handler was a Joint Secretary of R&AW. What is the name of this Joint Secretary? It’s someone called Anil Kumar Gupta. A name, that brings down the suspect list to a few hundred government employees in India. Why? Because Jadhav is not really a “spy on a mission”; and Pakistanis have no freaking clue as to who to blame in Delhi. If they name their own man, they lose an asset. So they just throw out a very common name, with the hope that they are not caught telling another lie.
What was heart wrenching in the TV interview of Jadhav; was that he read the given script to the letter and also said that he was treated properly by the Pakistanis. Watching this would make any Indian feel a burning fury for Pakistan and their outrageous and shameless lies, and a deep sense of sorrow for an innocent man caught in a political conspiracy not of his making.
Think this is not true? Think again. Next time, it may be you on those TV cameras, “confessing” to a crime that you never committed or even had any idea about.
Author: ‘Sardar’ Sanjay Matkar
Email: email@example.com, Twitter: @sanjaymatkar