Former spy - now a highly disillusioned mantext_fields
Ahmedabad: In 1989 when Kuldeep Yadav got an offer to work for the nation as a spy in Pakistan, his joy knew no bounds. As if he were waiting for this godsend opportunity "to serve the nation as a true patriot" that he believed he was.
So thrilled was he that he went ahead to get trained for the secret mission, informing his parents in his home in Ahmedabad that he was going for a job in New Delhi but did not specify the nature of the assignment. After which the family lost contact with him until 1997.
Today, when you meet him, you can sense the palpable pain and torture he might have gone through. His face is almost devoid of any expression. The ageing former spy is absolutely disillusioned, angry and hopeless - completely lost, unable to figure out how to pick up the thread of life after spending more than 28 years in Pakistan jail on espionage charges.
"It is a cruel, thankless world". That is how 59-year-old Yadav describes his encounter with this cruel, thankless world, giving vent to his pent-up anger, and pointing his finger at the government which hired him for the mission. But when he got arrested on espionage charges, the Indian authorities just disowned him.
He was fortunate to be reunited with his family. There are many who had worked for a similar secret mission and are still languishing in prisons there, endlessly waiting for the Indian authorities to help expedite their release - many of them have even lost their mental balance after being subjected to third-degree treatment. That is the fate of every spy who is caught in the enemy country.
Yadav, too, had to endure his share of torture which reduced him to a frail, pale, man suffering from many ailments like heart problems, hernia and tuberculosis.
Yadav returned home and united with his younger sister and three brothers on August 25. He was arrested by Pakistan military intelligence in March 1994 on espionage charges and released from jail on August 22 this year. He entered India via the Wagah-Attari border in Punjab.
Frustrated that he is, Yadav says he is particularly aggrieved about the way the government chose to disown and ignore him even after his release. He was not expecting this. "I sacrificed so much for my country but I did not get anything", he said, asking whether he does not deserve monetary support from the government to live a dignified life.
"I feel humiliated. I have been here since August 25. No one from the state or central government came to see me", said Yadav.
Yadav, a graduate of the University of Gujarat who was pursuing an LLB course when he joined the mission, is a worried man as many of his classmates are successful lawyers, some of them judges and businessmen, but here "I am left with nothing, literally nothing. If I don't get any financial assistance from the government to which I am entitled, I don't know how long I can depend on my siblings. I don't even have my own clothes. Even the shirt I am wearing now is from Pakistan", he says, underlining his plight.
So desperate Yadav has become that he asks everyone including reporters: how can you help me? I should get a pension and other facilities similar to retired army personnel. That is his demand and the only dream that keeps him going.
Pointing to a photograph of his mother and father hanging over a wall, Yadav said his biggest regret is that he could not meet his parents. His father died in 1999 and his mother in 2011. In January 1997, he wrote to his family telling them of his arrest in Pakistan - his parents were too shocked. Only then did they learn that he was alive in Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore.
He wrote several letters to the Indian Embassy in Pakistan but never got any response.
Officially, he was sent on a two-year mission which he carried out successfully. After completing two years, through his contact, he tried to get in touch with the Indian authorities to arrange for his return, but there was no response. He even wrote several letters to the Indian Embassy in Pakistan but there was no help coming. And eventually, he was arrested and incarcerated for 25 years.
Amidst the pain and suffering during his 32 years in Pakistan, Yadav has some good memories that he will cherish lifelong. He says he came across many Muslim jail inmates whose parents had migrated to Pakistan after the partition, and all of them invariably regret the decision of their forefathers, many of them cried before him in jail.
As for Yadav, he feels proud for having sacrificed for the country but at the same time, he says, he feels betrayed, disowned and dumped. "I cannot take it. Perhaps, I was fooled. I was a novice. Had I known it, I would not have opted for the mission", he declares.