Table of Contents

   A spy and a gentleman
   Doyen of Indian intelligence
   Czar of India's Counter
   Life and Times of R.N. Kao
   The Legend Called RN Kao
   RN Kao's World View
   RN Kao's Major Feats

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An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri



RN Kao's Major Feats

Bangladesh Creation:

RN KaoR.N Kao’s role in creation of Bangladesh has been widely commented upon. Emergence of Bangladesh was a development of great import in stabilizing Indian security in north-east. It is a different issue that the leaders who followed Mrs. Indira Gandhi bungled and Bangladesh became a factor in destabilising north-east. RAW was only 3 years old when it was confronted to respond to the crisis brewing in the then East Pakistan. Decision of Pakistan government in January 1968 to prosecute 28 Bengali leaders in Pakistan created political turbulence in its eastern wing. Soon thereafter Pakistan launched a campaign of genocide against Bengali Muslims. Refugees started entering India. Pt. RN Kao, ably assisted by his two colleagues, Messers Sankaran Nair and Girish Chander Saxsena sized up the scenario. The idea of training and equipping the cadres of Mukti Bahini was evolved meticulously. RAW built a huge network of operatives in East Pakistan. So thorough was RAW’s intelligence that IAF could do precision- bombing of the room in which the East Pakistan cabinet was in session. Naval Commandos made mincemeat of Pakistani navy in Chittagong Harbour. Americans were so impressed by the Indian intelligence support to the Mukti Bahini and the subsequent 14-day Bangladesh Liberation war that the operation was taught to West Point Cadets. Assets built by RAW proved useful after 1975 also. RN Kao continued to keep an eye on developments in Bangladesh. He had been informed by his contacts that three army officers- Major Rashid, Major Farooq and Lt. Col. Usmani had met at Ziaur- Rehman’s house and were planning a coup against Sheikh Mujib. Immediately, Kao Sahib went to Dhaka under the cover of a Pan exporter. Soon after his arrival he was driven to a secret house arranged beforehand. Mujib was a little perplexed on why Kao could not have come to him officially. In one-hour meeting that Kao had with Mujib, the latter remained unconvinced that a coup was in the offing. Mujib was also given the names of suspects. He laughed away the warning saying, “Kao Saab, these people are my children. They will never do me any harm. Please don’t worry”. A few weeks later Muib was overthrown, 40 members of his family were slain alongwith him. RAW was able to stage a counter-coup but Col. Musharraf could not consolidate, Gen. Zia-ur-Rehman assumed the command. Sometime later, Gen Zia-ur- Rehman in his capacity as Head of State visited New Delhi. In a meeting with Mrs. Indira Gandhi in which Pt. RN Kao was present Gen. Zia is reported to have remarked that “this man (referring to Kao) knows more about my country than I do”.

In 1983 when he was senior advisor to Mrs. Gandhi he persuaded RAW to set up a historical division to record the role of officers of RAW and DGS in the 1971 war. However, after he demitted office in November 1984 the division was reported to have been wound up even before it could complete the task.

‘Sikkim merger’:

Credit for merger of Sikkim also goes to Pt. RN Kao. It was he who warned Mrs. Gandhi in 1974 of a possible coup in Sikkim, then ruled by profligate, incompetent Chogyl dynasty. The cold war was at its height, global and regional situation was fraught with intrigue. US President Nixon was trying to access China through its client state, Pakistan. Kao feared that the imminent overthrow of Chogyl would turn the strategic state, sandwiched between Tibet and Nepal into a Chinese/or US playground. On the basis of Kao’s timely intelligence and advice Sikkim was merged as 22nd state of India on April 26, 1975. This drew strong reaction from China.

Relations with Mossad:

In view of commonality of threats to India and Israel, Mrs Gandhi believed that the relationship between the intelligence agencies of two countries was important to monitor developments. In Sept 1968 she asked Kao to cultivate Israel’s Mossad. India’s long advocacy of Palestinian/Arab cause and close relationship between USA and Pakistan made this a difficult assignment. As an efficient spymaster he was successful in establishing a clandestine relationship with Mossad. It is this good work done by Kao that is paying dividends today both in terms of arms purchases and anti-terrorism inputs. Soon after Kao established link with Mossad, military relationship between Pakistan and North Korea was indentified as threat. Second concern was that Pakistani Army officers were imparting training to Libyans and Iranians to handle Chinese and North Korean military equipment. During Gen Zia-ul-Haque’s time Pakistan had initiated plans to acquire Nuclear capability. While French assistance to Pakistan for plutonium reprocessing plant was well-known, the Uranium enrichment plant at Kahuta was a secret. Both Israel and India were alarmed about Kahuta plant. Israeli Defence Minister, General Moshe Dayan secretly visited Kathmandu to meet Indian representatives. Pakistan believed that the visit was connected with a joint operation to end Pakistan’s nuclear programme. RAW officials alerted Prime Minister Morarji Desai about General Zia’s designs to go ahead with Kahuta plant. Till then RAW-Mossad relationship was secret. In an act of indiscretion which compromised India’a security, the repercussions of which we are witnessing today, Desai leaked out RAW-Mossad relationship. He called Gen. Zia and told him?, “General, I know what you are up to in Kahuta. RAW has got me all the details. This was done at a time when Gen. Dayan was still in Nepal, holding discussions with India’s.” Apprehensive about an Indo- Israeli attack on Kahuta plant, Surface to Air missiles were mounted around it. RAW’s assets in Pakistan got exposed. At the same time Pakistan began engaging Israelis through Americans who assured Israel that Pakistan’s nuclear capability won’t threaten Israel. The latter took off Pakistan from its list, concentrating on Iraq, Iran and Libyan schemes only. General Zia kept Israelis in good humour by developing relationship with Mossad, helping it by providing military information about Libya, Syria, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. Good work done by Kao for over a decade was nullified by a single act of Morarji Desai. The latter was bestowed ‘Nishan-e-Pakistan’, Pakistan’s highest award by General Zia himself.

‘Sri Lanka Operation’:

Post-1971 Sri Lanka was posing security problems for India. JVP insurrection had jolted Sri Lankan government. The government began shopping for arms in international bazar. Around same time it put into opreation a policy of systematic persecution of native Tamil minority. This created serious unrest among the Tamil Nadu population. So long as Sirimavo Bandaranaike headed the government Indian government had little to worry. India had been keeping close watch on Sri Lanka since 1971. Indira Gandhi realized that India’s southern flank was open after Pakistani military planes used Katunayake for refuelling during their flight to Dhaka and the US sent its fleet to the Indian ocean. The watch was intensified after Jayewardene was elected to power in 1977. His foreign policy tilted towards US. In July 1983 anti-Tamil riots broke out. During the riots Mathew Abraham, a deputy director of RAW posted in Colombo was severely assaulted by government instigated mob. Anti-Tamil riots created serious tension in Tamil Nadu. People started demanding direct Indian intervention to protect Sri Lankan Tamils. Indira Gandhi began putting pressure on Jayewardene to work out a political solution with the Tamils. She sent her Foreign Minister, PV Narsimha Rao to Colombo, who informed her that Sri Lankan government was more keen in subduing the Tamils militarily than in reaching an accommodation through negotiations. Jayewardene’s request for arms from the US, UK, Pakistan and China deepened Indian concern. Pt. RN Kao who was then Prime Minister’s Chief Security Advisor, told Indira Gandhi that any attempt by Jaewardene for a military solution would create security problems for India and lead to unrest in Tamil Nadu. He further informed her that more serious than these factors would be the influx of forces inimical to India into Sri Lanka. It was pointed out that intelligence agencies of US, UK, Pakistani and Israeli agents and other military interests would intrude into the region. Kao impressed upon Mrs. Gandhi that India’s best option remained to persuade Jayewardene to talk to TULF and work out an accommodation with Tamils. In case it did not work then covert option i.e. using Tamil militant groups to Sri Lanka Govt pressurise was to be put into action. Mrs. Gandhi accepted the scheme. The covert plan to train and arm Tamil militant groups had a definitive but limited objective- ‘to push Jayewardene to the negotiation table and no more’. It had to give a signal to Sri Lankan government that the Tamils had the powerful backing of India. Kao was associated with implementation of this plan. Tamil groups were wary of the plan because they felt that the limited Indian objective would hinder the objective of Tamil Eelam. Indians promoted TELO, while radical outfits e.g. PLOTE, LTTE, EPRLF were kept out for varying reasons. There has been little debate on why the conceived schemes went haywire. --(Compiled by Sentinel Desk) 

Source: Kashmir Sentinel



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