India recalls its amorous spy from Beijing
* Several Indian diplomats, intelligence officials posted in China fell for Chinese women in recent years
By Iftikhar Gilani; Daily Times, May 3, 2008
NEW DEHI: India has recalled its spy from Beijing following reports that he fell in love with his Chinese language teacher.
The operative, Manmohan Sharma, was heading the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) desk at the Indian Embassy in Beijing.
According to reports, top intelligence officials believe that the spy’s beloved could be an informant of the Chinese government and that Sharma might have passed on information on India’s moves and counter-moves regarding border talks with China over the past year. Sharma has been reverted to the RAW headquarters after his ‘affair’ was exposed late February.
Over the past few years, Indian diplomats and intelligence officers posted in Beijing and its surroundings have embarked on relationships with Chinese women. A young Indian diplomat also reportedly fell in love with his Chinese language teacher in early 2000. The young officer was removed from his post and posted at an academy in India.
In October last year, senior RAW officer Ravi Nair was recalled from Hong Kong for his reported relationship with a woman believed to be working for a Chinese spy agency. However, the woman met with Ravi again some time later while he was posted in Colombo, and began living with him. The RAW management again acted and recalled him from Colombo.
In early 90s an Indian naval attaché posted in Islamabad reportedly fell in love with a Pakistani woman working in the Military Nursing Service in Karachi. The attaché was interrogated and then forced to resign. Reports said the official, who had initially claimed having recruited the woman as a spy, was being blackmailed by the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), which wanted his services after his return to the Naval Headquarters in Delhi.
In another case, a senior Intelligence Bureau (IB) official, who was due to take over as the chief of counter-intelligence, had an ‘unauthorised’ relationship with a female US consular officer. His meetings with her were recorded on camera by the IB, and he was forced to retire following interrogation.
However, in the history of Indian intelligence, the most famous case was that of KV Unnikrishnan, a RAW officer dealing with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). He had developed a relationship with an airhostess believed to be an intelligence scion.
He was arrested just ahead of a peace accord signed between India and Sri Lanka.
Because Unnikrishnan was in charge of the Chennai office through which India channelled assistance to the LTTE, his job was considered ‘super sensitive’. Because of his relationship, several LTTE boats had been trapped by the Sri Lankan army — which led to the suspicion that someone had tipped off the Sri Lankan authorities.
Finally, Unnikrishnan was arrested and imprisoned for several years. He was released without a court trial because of the sensitive nature of his job and the fear that India’s connections with the LTTE would become public.
The Indian Mail Today recorded an oldest case of ‘honey trapping’, when an Indian diplomat during the time of the first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru was trapped by a Russian girl in Moscow. When the Russian spy agency KGB presented him with the pictures of his activities with the girl, the diplomat informed his ambassador about his relationship and the KGB’s attempts to blackmail him. The ambassador raised the issue with Nehru, who was himself in charge of the External Affairs Ministry. Nehru just laughed it off, warning the young diplomat to be more careful in future.