Encouraged by the generosity showered by Punjab government on Indian spy Kashmir Singh released after 34 years in Pakistan prison, 45 others sent into the neighbouring country to gather intelligence have moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court for compensation.
High Court lawyer Ranjan Lakhanpal confirmed that he is presently dealing with at least 41 such petitions seeking a better life for their families.
"Cases are piling up. The Union Government refused to own up these moles who spent the prime of their lives behind bars, serving national interest," said the lawyer. Most of these men hail from the border areas of Amritsar, Ferozepur and Gurdaspur districts, he said.
Lakhanpal said the petitions sought employment and adequate compensation for the families of the spies who were promised the moon before being pushed into alien territory. "We have also sought directions from the court to impress upon the Union Government to formulate a policy in this regard, so that once these spies are caught performing duty, their families are looked after well by the state," he added.
Sources say the indifferent attitude of Indian authorities towards these spies has not only discouraged fresh recruitment, but also partially dried up the flow of information vital to national security.
"No one from our area is now willing to risk their lives as the authorities do not care about our families," said Gurbaksh Ram, who spent 19 years in Pakistan prisons before he was released in 2006. He said he was trained at the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) in Delhi in 1987 before he was sent into Pakistan. The former spy works as a daily wager for a living.
RAW and Intelligence Bureau (IB) officials agree that disturbing reports about the poor condition of the families of these spies has discouraged fresh recruitment to an extent. "This surely affects the smooth flow of information from across the border, especially from Pakistan, which is of paramount importance for updating national security concerns," added the officials.
Lakhanpal claimed that Intelligence Officers, when summoned to court, admitted that they could not own up spies due to national security compulsions. "They try to strike out of court settlements with them, paying them Rs 50,000 or even Rs 1 lakh, which is nothing. The officials admit that the media hype of the poor condition of the spies has certainly taken a toll on fresh recruitment," said the lawyer.
Lt Gen Surjit Singh Sanghra (retd), former General Officer Commanding -in-Chief, Western Command, said that those high up in the hierarchy in the services, committed to intelligence gathering, were adequately paid and their families were also taken care of.
"Of the others, not all of them are short-changed. Many of them, engaged in smuggling contraband and the like vocations, are driven by personal interests when hired by agencies," added the Army Commander.