He started off as a taxi driver, went on to become a spy for an Indian intelligence agency, spent 11 years in a Pakistan jail and is now running an association for the welfare of unsung heroes.
Disappointed by the lack of support from the Indian government, Vinod Sawhney says there is no difference between a militant organisation and India’s intelligence agency.
Sawhney, now 66, was a taxi driver a few decades ago before an intelligence official boarded his taxi as a passenger.
“He (the official) brainwashed me. He said it was a government job and spoke about patriotism. So, I got lured to become a spy without knowing my actual job. When I reached the border (India-Pakistan border), that’s when I got to know what the job was all about. There is no difference between a militant organisation and our intelligence agency,” Sawhney told IANS over phone from Jammu.
He was sent to Pakistan in 1977 and was arrested in the same year. He was then sentenced to jail for 11 years. In March 1988, he was sent back to India. On his return to his home country, he found it difficult to get his dues from the government.
Later, he started the Jammu Ex-Sleuths Association for the welfare of those who have worked as secret agents for Indian intelligence agencies, but were later disowned.
“There has been no help from the government. There should be a policy that will help those who spent time in the enemy country’s jail, and their families. The policy should also be beneficial to the martyrs’ families,” said the father of two, who stays in Jammu’s Bakshi Nagar.
“Next year, we have decided that we will go to Parliament if the government won’t consider our demands. We (along with our families) will commit suicide there. We are not cowards. No soldier is a coward. But if the government won’t do something for us, we will take this step. We are anyway struggling so much,” he said.
Why not join politics then’
“You need money for that,” he said.
Sawhney believes that movies are a big medium that can help his cause.
“If movies are made related to us (sleuths) and our sufferings, the reach will be much better. The entire nation and the world will see what RAW agents do. Government knows about our problems, but the officials have turned deaf and dumb,” he said.
Quite a few Bollywood films have been made on the subject, but it was the team of “Force 2” that recently approached him and lent support. The film’s lead actors John Abraham and Sonakshi Sinha even visited the Amar Jawan Jyoti here to pay tribute to the country’s unsung heroes. They were accompanied by Sawhney, who is the President of the Jammu Ex-Sleuths Association.
“Patriots don’t want awards. They live for the country and die for the county. When the film’s makers contacted me, I thought that if they will be able to convey our message to higher authorities, we would love to associate with them,” said the former spy.
The film revolves around the intention of one man who wants kill agents of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India’s intelligence agency. Directed by Abhinay Deo, the film hit theatres on Friday.
(Natalia Ningthoujam can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
By Natalia Ningthoujam