Monday, February 08, 2021

BookMarks #78: An Indian Spy in Pakistan

Title: An Indian Spy in Pakistan 
Author: Mohanlal Bhaskar; Translated by Jai Ratan 
Published: 1990 
Genre: Non-fiction, Memoirs 

The book is an autobiographical narrative of the time spent in Pakistani jails by the author, Mr. Mohanlal Bhaskar. He was an Indian spy who was betrayed by a double agent. He was accused of getting Pakistani nuclear secrets – an accusation which he neither confirms nor denies during his narrative. While behind bars in his tenure in various Pakistani prisons he witnesses historic events – Bhutto’s arrest, Sheikh Mujib’s jail tenure, IAF bombing Mianwali. 

At times,  it is just a tale of torture. I wonder how anyone could survive almost relentless abuse and beatings for years with seemingly no end in sight. And reading this harrowing tale why people are motivated to go in this dangerous line. Yes, they are serving the nation’s interests, but they also know that they will not be publicly acknowledged in case of capture. 

In between the narrative Mr. Bhaskar also presents the socio-political narrative of Pakistan. And it is one bleak picture of a society whose political and military leadership have destroyed it from within. However, the people are different, some kind souls, some rotten to the core and some just doing their duty. Mr. Bhaskar presents an excellent recall of his many conversations with them. This are the bits which humanizes the tale. 

And then there is the last chapter of the story where he talks about the then Prime Minister Morarji Desai. The extent of bitterness of their meeting is unbelievable. Even the double agent who betrayed him nor his Pakistani torturers are not shown such hatred. In fact, this lends credence to the rumours of why Mr. Desai was conferred with the Nishan-e-Pakistan. 

Overall, an interesting read. However, the book needed a better translator. At times the meaning is lost in translation and there are quite a few typographical errors as well. These are especially irksome at the beginning of the tale. 

Previously on BookMarks: The Leader In You

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