Global Affairs Desk

Tue Jun 18 2024

Ravindra Kaushik-The Black Tiger of India

~ By Samidha Jain on 9/4/2022

Ravindra Kaushik-The Black Tiger of India

This is the tale of one of the finest spies India has ever made, Ravindra Kaushik. Ravindra Kaushik was born on 11th April 1952 in Sri Ganganagar, Rajasthan. He was just 23 when he was spotted and then recruited as an undercover operative for the Research and Analysis Wing, RAW. He was sent to Pakistan as a permanent spy with the only intention of espionage under the identity of Nabi Ahmad Shakir. From 1975 until his arrest in 1983, he was an active spy. He died at the age of 49 in November 2001 in the Pakistani Jail of Mainwali due to Tuberculosis. For his service and bravery, he was given the title of “The Black Tiger” by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Ravindra Kaushik was an extraordinary young man with a passion for solo acting. Before joining RAW, he graduated from the SD Bhilani PG College, Sri Ganganagar with a degree in B.Com. His days in college could be described just like every other ordinary person’s. But he was an extraordinary man with ambition and patriotism. It is said that his face resembled that of actor Vinod Khanna and he used to take a keen interest in acting. He used to play the roles of patriots like Bhagat Singh, army soldiers, and war criminals with great effort and passion. During one of his shows in Lucknow, he was spotted by a RAW officer. From there, he was called to Delhi. He was asked to portray a role in real life, burn his old identity and life and spy in Pakistan. He went through 2 years of training in Delhi. He converted to Islam, underwent circumcision, learnt Urdu and adapted himself to live in Pakistan as a Muslim without any suspicion.

In the first year, he was sent undercover to 7-8 countries as a temporary spy. These visits are used as trial rounds for the spies and then the best ones are made permanent spies. During these visits, Kaushik went to Pakistan thrice with the fake identity of Nabi Ahmad Shakir. Impressed by his work, he was sent undercover as a permanent operative in 1975 to Pakistan. The permanent spies become citizens of the country they have been sent to and live there until they are caught or called back.
Nabi Ahmad Shakir then did LLB from Karachi college and later applied for the Pakistani Military. Agents like him are advised to marry locals and get settled in the other country. He married a local named Amanat who later gave birth to their son. His positions in the Pakistani Army paved the way for him to transmit more political and confidential information to the Indian Government and RAW. He transmitted key information regarding the Pakistani military, their positions, threats and nuclear plans. Impressed by his work, he was awarded the title of “The Black Tiger”.

On a fine Friday morning of September 1983, RAW fixed an abrupt meeting for him in the Jinnah Garden, Karachi with an operative named Inayat Khalil. Kaushik had been promoted to the post of Major in the Pakistani army when this incident took place. He was caught red-handed and was sent to the Sialkot Jail where he stayed for three years. During the course of these three years, he was physically and mentally tortured. He was later moved to the Mianwali Jail of Central Pakistan where he stayed until his death in 2001.

His family in India received a few of his letters which he managed to send secretly. In those letters, he mentioned his deteriorating health and urged them to get him free with the help of the Indian Government and RAW, after all, he was our Black Tiger. But both India and Pakistan and their intelligence agencies have refrained to accept espionage. And thus, spies like Ravindra Kaushik are disowned upon arrest by their own country. He died in jail waiting for his government to respond at the age of 49 in November 2001 due to pulmonary tuberculosis and heart disease.

Ravindra Kaushik is that unsung hero in pages of our history who sacrificed his identity, life, freedom and in the end everything without any recognition from the nation. People like him with such bravery and patriotism are hard to find. Their sacrifices and spirit act as fuel in the pious fire of Patriotism.

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