Tale of torture of 2 Indian soldiers by Pak, bid to turn them into spies
Authored by senior journalist Chander Suta Dogra, the book tells how the two were declared deserters by the army and their cases were never taken up properly by the Indian government, with their families leaving all hopes of the return of the missing men.Updated: Feb 12, 2020 22:48 IST
Two Indian soldiers, who went missing in the Mushkoh Valley during the Kargil conflict in September 1999, were captured by Pakistani forces and then tortured to turn them into ‘assets’ to spy on their own country.
The claim has been made in a book titled “Missing in Action: The Prisoners who Never Came Back’’ that narrates the physical and mental torment the two men of the 108 Engineer Regiment — Bathinda native Jagseer Singh and Meerut’s Arif Mohammad Khan—underwent before being given training on espionage and forced to convert to Islam by Pakistan.
Authored by senior journalist Chander Suta Dogra, the book tells how the two were declared deserters by the army and their cases were never taken up properly by the Indian government, with their families leaving all hopes of the return of the missing men.
In Pakistan, the book claims, the two were first taken to the army unit deployed close to the LoC and subjected to third-degree torture before being sent to Chaklala and Rawalpindi. They were put through four stages of indoctrination followed by Mutt and Jeff interrogation techniques, it is claimed.
Then they were given the task of opening civil canteens in the Suratgarh, Lalgarh Jattan, Ganganagar and Bathinda cantonments and to collect intelligence which was to be passed on to Pakistani agents in New Delhi. Funds were to come from Pakistan to their families.
Pakistan kept on denying having any Indian soldiers in its custody.
Meanwhile, Arif’s wife Gudiya got remarried and was pregnant with her second husband’s child till the issue of two missing soldiers cropped up in the media in 2003 when he managed to write a letter to his family that he was in Pakistan Army’s custody.
India then strongly took up the issue with Pakistan, which in 2004 agreed to release the two in exchange of release of a Pakistani soldier captured near the Line of Control (LoC) in 2002 and two civilians.
The two soldiers landed in India via the Wagah border in 2004 and the army intelligence kept them at the military hospital in Amritsar for debriefing.
The book claims the army’s intensive debriefing was intended to find out if theirs was an intentionally executed desertion or an inadvertent straying across the LoC. But intelligence sleuths found Jagseer’s behavior suspicious as he wore a white skull cap and offered namaz five times a day.
The soldiers seemed sullen and refused to talk for the first two days, the author claims quoting some officials.
But then the intelligence team befriended them and after a month they narrated the psychological exploitation, indoctrination and inhuman treatment they faced over five years meted by Pakistan to them turn into spies.
Col Bipin Pathak (retd), who had debriefed the two, is quoted in the book saying, “The two harboured a deep anger towards the army and India for letting them down as deserters. They had been told that if they went back to their units, they will be shot dead or thrown into jail.”
Col Pathak is quoted as saying the army sent them to their units from where they retired. Jagseer later joined the Punjab Police and also worked in security of now state finance minister Manpreet Badal.
With a foreword by General VP Malik (retd), former chief of army staff, the book also carries stories of Major AK Suri, who came alive five years after he was declared dead and how Indian intelligence deduced that Flight Lieutenant TS Dandoss was not killed in an air crash but was secretly detained by Pakistan.