Ram Bahadur Rai is the editor of Pratham Pravakta, a Hindi news magazine published from Delhi. A former news editor of Jansatta newspaper, he is the author of Rahvari ke Sawal (on Chandrashekhar) and Manjil se Jyada Safar (on V. P. Singh). A founding organiser of J. P. Movement, Ram Bahadur declined to walk into the corridors of power. An eternal rebel, he explains why he wants to walk with another rebel, Maloy Krishna Dhar for as long as he can.
Friendship between a spymaster and a journalist is a curious thing. Both gather and disseminate information and intelligence; though for different consumers.
The JP Movement had galvanised India in the mid-1970s, and given the country an opportunity to rebuild the system. It failed because of the hunger of the political personalities. For us, (people like K. N. Gobindacharya, Nitish Kumar and I), the movement was a turning point.
I was one of the 11-member Steering Committee that piloted the JP Movement. I was the first person to be jailed under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act, (passed by the Indira Gandhi government in 1973 giving superpowers to law enforcement agencies, and repealed by the subsequent Janata Party Government in 1977).
Later, during the heydays of the JP Movement, I was again jailed for eighteen months.
For me to befriend a jasoos-master was not a natural development. But we met, and slowly we realised that we shared a common dream, a common vision for the nation. Gradually Gobindacharya, S. Gurumurthy, Manoj Kumar Sonthalia and I discovered that Maloy was a rebel officer; he was in the system to earn his daily bread, but like us he wanted a change for betterment of the country. Our minds clicked, and we have been friends since then.
I remember Maloy Dhar started walking with us from 1978-79 onwards. An important functionary of the Intelligence Bureau and someone who had close proximity to Indira Gandhi, Maloy came to us with the zeal of a missionary.
He had seen the system, he said, and wanted to help us from within the system to destroy it decisively and offer another new beginning to the country. His grit and determination surprised me: no serving government official at such a high level would ever stick his neck out for an ideology.
But that is precisely what Dhar did. As the scandal-ridden regime of Rajiv Gandhi tottered, I saw Dhar displaying brilliant professional competence in Punjab Operations. We had heard about his exploits in the Northeast, but Punjab was happening before our eyes.
Sometime in September 1987, I visited his government quarter at Bapa Nagar only to be shocked by the presence of 12 odd heavily armed Sikhs in Nihang dress standing before the house. A posse of CRP guard stood nearby.
I entered the home with trepidation only to find Maloy closeted with three top Damdami Taksal leaders and the Jathedar of the Akal Takht.
As 1984-85 started tolling the bells for the Rajiv Gandhi government, Maloy helped us immensely by devising strategy, planning and insider estimates that helped V. P. Singh and his BJP friends to form a coalition.
Initially working on the platform of anti-corruption, clean national life and systemic reforms the VP regime was our dream, a realisation of the J. P. Movement.
However, when everyone was expecting Dhar to walk away with a big reward, he simply walked into Punjab, Kashmir and Pakistan operations. We could not convince him to accept a reward.
A rebel is usually more punished than rewarded.
It happened in January 1995, when the Narasimha Rao government decided to cancel the ‘age-correction’ order of Maloy that would have given him another 30 months and the top post. The media was agitated. This happened simply because the name of Prabhakar Rao (a son of the PM) had come up during interrogation of a ISRO espionage case suspect. Rao had later forced the CBI to bury the case and punish a few other IB and Kerala officers.
We wanted to fight for Maloy. He declined on the plea that it would take him 10 years to complete the legal tangle. He might get a little extra money, but he would be wasting time. Instead, he decided to write as freelance journalist and talked about authoring books.
The print media gladly accepted his specialist views (he has written over 300 articles). But I was pleasantly surprised when the Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission agreed to launch Maloy’s first dynamic book-Bitter Harvest, A Saga Of Punjab. It was a roaring success and was translated into Gurmukhi.
His journey thereafter was a story of a rebel shaking the country with wonderful stories, in books like Open Secrets, Fulcrum of Evil-ISI, CIA and Al Qaeda Nexus, Operation XXX, Mission Pakistan, Black Thunder and his latest offering, We the People of India-A Story of Gangland Democracy.
A rebel does not retire. I only hope Maloy will give more shock treatment to the country through his powerful pen. He need not, as he often dreams, join the Naxals for starting another rebellion. His writing will surely shake the System. I would like to walk the same road with Maloy as long as the flesh and spirit permit.
The views expressed in the article are of the author’s and not of Sify.com.