Harinder (twitter handle-@FANRAW76) write a very insightful thread on his Twitter handle briefly describing about Operation Hornet, a daring operation performed by R&AW in Europe. Here is what he wrote on his thread-
NOVEMBER 1984.The then PM Indira Gandhi had been assassinated.Thousands of miles away at a Cafe in Paris R&AW operative Sanjiv Jindal was lost in thought. He was thinking about his recent trip to London.In London Jindal had met his recruit Clark Lee a R&AW informer who was primarily tasked with picking up intelligence on Anti-India elements especially Pakistanis like Abdul Khan who sheltered extremists. Reading Lee’s report on the night of November 3 Jindal was filled with anger and rage.
He was thinking about how could he bring down Anti-India network operating in Europe.
SINCE 1982 Abdul Khan had invited Pakistani intelligence officers,Indian Fugitives and some local politicians to his house in London..Lee in his report had warned that Khan has several rounds of meeting with Indian recruited by ISI.This meant that Khan and ISI were planning something sinister against India.Jindal had forwarded Lee’s report to New Delhi in a Diplomatic Pouch but due to laxity of analysts back home he had never received a response. In December 1984 Jindal called his boss Anuj Bhardwaj in New Delhi and briefed him on Lee’s report and told him about Khan and ISI’s sinister plans.
Jindal also informed Bhardwaj about an Indian recruited by ISI to help Khan.
His name was BN Sandhu. Bhardwaj asked Jindal to come to Delhi.In Delhi both of them discussed the reports sent before the assassination of Indira Gandhi.Jindal also told discussed about Lee’s report on Abdul Khan and BN Sandhu who were planning terrorist attacks on Indian soil.Jindal asked for Bhardwaj’s permission to start am operation to bring down Khan and Sandhu.Bhardwaj asked for 2 days time to make up his mind.He was not sure that whether Jindal’s source had the key to the inner circle of Abdul Khan and his chums.
Bhardwaj had been told by a friend in Foreign Ministry that they were working out PM Rajiv Gandhi’s foreign visits and France could be one of the destinations in 1985.Thinking about Jindal’s confidence in the intelligence that they had received,Bhardwaj decided to launch an operation against Abdul Khan. It was decided that London was to be the theatre of this operation and Paris could be used as a an intelligence sub-station to plan the operation and hold meetings. Later in 1984 Bhardwaj began his day in office reading reports filed by Jindal from Paris as well as a few memos and observation reports from London. Bhardwaj realized that BN Sandhu had vanished and then reappeared in the last couple of months .No one knew where he had been. But one of Jindal’s report based on Lee’s input had suggested Islamabad as a location. The report sent a quiver through Bhardwaj.When Jindal showed up again Bhardwaj said” I now see what you were hinting at.What is your plan?”
Jindal said that they need to reach out to Sandhu and should let ISI and Pakistan Army create a Bangladesh like situation for us. After deliberations for 2 hours Bhardwaj asked Jindal to put surveillance on Abdul Khan and BN Sandhu.Bhardwaj asked Sandhu about his plan for the operation. Jindal said he wanted an officer posted undercover in Indian embassy in London to coordinate with Jindal’s informer Clarke Lee.Bhardwaj asked Jindal to be careful and this was the beginning of Operation Hornet.Jindal had identified the spy to be posted in London.He was codenamed Mohan Narayanan.Mohan had earlier caarried put several operations under Jindal in Prague .Mohan was also well informed about militancy and European landscape and was fluent in German and French. Operation Hornet was divided into two areas Narayanan and Lee were tasked with intelligence collection and interpretation while the covert Operation was Jindal’s responsibility. In January 1985 Jindal was in Vienna .He was waiting at a Cafe to meet his old informer Sophie .Jindal known by a different name then had parted ways with her 2 years earlier at the end of am operation.SOPHIE was working at an NGO and had met Jindal at a human rights conference. Sophie was critical of Pakistan’s activities and America’s involvement in South Asia.She was impressed by Jindal’s political and military knowledge of Europe and his strong views on Cold War.Sophie assisted Jindal in his Austria operation. Like R&AW’s other subconscious agents in Europe in 80s and 90s she transfered money to moles ,trained new assets in the large country and occasionally ran assets on behalf of the handler.
Jindal asked Sophie that did she know where was Harpreet Ahuja.(Harpreet used to work with R&AW earlier )Sophie told him that he had left about a year ago.Jindal gave an envelope to Sophie containing $10,000 and asked her to find Harpreet. Sophie took the envelope and left.Two days later Jindal was in Paris.He called Narayanan on a secure line at the embassy from a public telephone booth.Narayanan and Lee had used cash to lure Abdul Khan’s gardener ,a Pakistani named Tariq Siddiqui to betray his employer.Narayan and Lee’s this move dealt a crippling blow to the Khan-Sandhu nexus.
Tariq Siddiqui provided a huge amount of information including the names and car numbers of visitors to Khan’s house.The list included officials from ISI,Pakistan Army and Pakistan Civil Servants as well as Sandhu and the 2 aides who were supposedly Sandhu’s bodyguards and another Indian who Tariq identified as Harbaksh Singh. Jindal was very happy with Narayanan’s work.And asked him to push Tariq to give pictures of ISI and Pakistan Army officers coming to Khan’s place.Later that weekend Narayanan informed Jindal that Tariq had refused to oblige but after Narayanan paid him$5000 Tariq promised to give him the letters arriving at Khan’s residence. Tariq delivered about a dozen envelopes but most were invitation to public function but one document about money transfer from a bank was significant. It revealed that Khan was depositing small amounts of cash into 3 different accounts at a bank in London.
Narayanan suspected that accounts were linked to Sandhu and Harbaksh.As both Sandhu and Harbaksh were living beyond there means.Based on the Intel Jindal told Narayanan that Tariq needs to be handled carefully and that he was confused about what Khan and ISI were planning.Narayanan told Jindal that he will send a plan to handle Tariq along with his reports. A week later Jindal forwarded a coded message to Bhardwaj .It brought a smile on Bhardwaj’s face.Although Tariq’s inputs were limited but the details about the key players arriving at Khan’s house have the R&AW top brass valuable insights into ISI’s plans and intentions. Narayanan had a Plan B to recruit a mole in Sandhu’s network. With Lee’s help he started working on Harbaksh’s cousin Amarjeet Singh who had just migrated to London and was seeking asylum.
Lee deliberately bumped into Amarjeet at the immigration center where Lee asked him whether Amarjeet needed any help.Amarjeet was surprised but not shocked and told Lee his story.Lee promised to facilitate his case and warned Amarjeet not to discuss it with anyone. Lee won over Amarjeet and was able to move on from formal inquiries about Amarjeet’s life in India to intimate questions about regarding Harbaksh’s activities. Lee learnt that Amarjeet never liked Harbaksh but was compelled to stay with him.
Lee agreed to help him .Amarjeet told Lee about Pakistani visitors at Harbaksh’s house.Lee asked Amarjeet to keep a watch on Harbaksh. And before leaving he gave Amarjeet some money because he knew that Amarjeet was going to bring down Harbaksh. Narayanan informed Jindal about Amarjeet .
Jindal was happy but he was concerned since he had not met Sophie for a long time.Vienna was one of the most critical and adventure filled theaters between the Americans and Soviets. Sophie contacted Jindal in the first week of April and asked him to come to Vienna.At their meeting at the same Cafe in Vienna ,Sophie informed Jindal that how she found Harpreet Ahuja and told him his story.Harpreet was working as a manager in a restaurant in Innsbruck(Austria).Jindal told Sophie that he wants to meet Harpreet at the earliest.
They took the next morning train to
Before coming to Austria Harpreet had worked for an Indian Businessman named Avtar Sethi in California.Jindal did a thorough background check on Harpreet before meeting him.Sophie had arranged the meeting at a Cafe in old Town in Innsbruck. Harpreet told Jindal that he enjoyed his life in California but disliked the gathering at Sethi’s which he thought were Anti-India. He told Jindal that Sethi was working with Sandhu to harm India. JINDAL recruited Harpreet to work for R&AW.Harpreet’s codename was Einseidler.Sophie was Harpreet’s handler.Harpreet was tasked to revive his contact with Sethi.Harpreet asked Jindal to send money to his family in India. They agreed to share intelligence though dead drops.Dead drops is a mechanism to receive and leave packets containing input and money at pre-decided location to avoid one om one meeting with sources. HARPREET was taught spy tradecraft and techniques by Sophie and Jindal. Jindal was back in Paris a week later.
Narayanan and Lee had Collected a good Intel.Both Tariq and Amarjeet proved to be excellent assets.Amarjeet informed that Harbaksh regularly received Money from a person posted in Pakistan embassy in London.Jindal didn’t knew what to do.
He contacted Bhardwaj.A decision was taken to expose Harbaksh and Pakistani officer links and activities to BRITISH Home Secretary Leon Brittan sometime in June 1985 through a backdoor channel. But before the British could act both Harbaksh and the ISI officer escaped from London.
A source in Pakistan informed Bhardwaj about arrival of Harbaksh and his family in Rawalpindi.A month earlier in May 1985va civilian and 4 security personnel had been killed in Punjab .In July 1985 a MoU was signed between PM Rajiv Gandhi and Sant Harchand Singh Longowal of SAD.
The govt agreed to make exgratia payments to all innocent people killed since 1982 and pay compensation for damaged property.
AFSPA was also withdrawn from Punjab.But everything failed and in the same month seven civilians were killed. Bhardwaj and Jindak chose a 2 part strategy to target Khan ,Sandhu and Sethi. For Sandhu and Khan Jindal suggested a covert operation.
And for Sethi Jindal suggested to lure him with money since he was a businessman.
Harpreet had made a contact with Sethi and was planning to visit California.
Sophie volunteered to play the role of his girlfriend. In October 1985 Harpreet and Sophie arrived in California. Despite initial reluctance Sethi made an offer tobHarpreet to stay and work for him. Harpreet and Sophie started to keep a tab on Sethi and by 1986 the harvest was ready.In February 1986 Sophie and Harpreet left for Paris on pretext of an Indian embassy officials was tasked to confront Sethi with the evidence collected by R&AW OPERATIVES AND THEUR ASSETS. The Indian officials confronted Sethi with all the evidence. Sethi initially denied but later dropped his cover story and admitted that he was closely working with Sandhu who was employed by ISI to launch attacks in India. Sethi was taken to a safe house in San Francisco where Narayanan was waiting for him.After interrogating Sethi for 6 hours he informed Jindal about Sandhu’s activities, the name of Pakistani officers he had met with his collaborator and also the details of a meeting with Khan. SETHI agreed to work for R&AW.He shared all the details of ISI and Sandhu-Khan nexus activities in London.
An ISI officer Mahmood Khan was the handler of BN SANDHU AND ABDUL KHAN. SETHI revealed the entire details of people who were a part of ISI network in Europe and India.Bhardwaj and Jindal forwarded all these names to the R&AW headquarters.18 people on the list were eliminated in covert operations and a manhunt was launched for 9 other. In Juky 1986 Sethi delivered a tape to the agency which revealed a plan to expand ISI’S operations and the finance required to execute more attacks in India. R&AW gave evidence of all the ISI activities on British soil to the British authorities. The remaining network was pulled down by British action.
But Sandhu and Abdul Khan were still out of reach.R&AW LAUNCHED ANOTHER COVERT OPERATION .SANDHU AND HIS ASSOCIATES WERE ARRESTED IN DECEMBER 1986.THE ISI’S ANTI-INDIA NETWORK WAS ALMOST FINISHED. ABDUL KHAN was still active and was planning attacks on India.R&AW learnt from Tariq that Abdul was visiting Lahore to meet his family.In May 1987 two motorcycle borne men gunned down Abdul Khan outside his house in Lahore .The Lahore Police concluded it was a result of Business Rivalry but ISI KNEW THAT R&AW HAD CHASED AND KILLED THE FOUNTAINHEAD OF TERROR.At Abdul Khan’s funeral a R&AW ASSET noticed that flowers had been sent from Hamid Gul.
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