Former R&AW officers have expressed hope that PM Modi will look into the matter against former Vice President, Hamid Ansari, to find the truth about the whole Tehran matter. These officers had first approached PM Modi in 2017, seeking an inquiry against Ansari for “damaging R&AW operations” while he was posted as Ambassador in Tehran, Iran during 1990-1992.
In their complaint to PM Modi, in which at least 4 instances are mentioned wherein Ansari failed in his duties, the officers have claimed that Ansari “not only failed to protect India’s national interest, but cooperated with the Iranian government and its intelligence agency SAVAK to cause serious dent to R&AW and its operations.”
In the complaint, the officers asked for a detailed inquiry into Ansari’s role in issuance of fake visas, exactly why he failed to take appropriate actions when staff members in Tehran were being kidnapped at the behest of the Iranian government; and most importantly, the role Ansari played in damaging R&AW’s operations in Tehran and other Gulf countries.
In May 1991, a few months after Ansari’s posting in Tehran, a young personal assistant, Sandeep Kapoor, was kidnapped from Tehran airport by Iran’s intelligence men. He was tortured and drugged for three days before thrown on a lonely city road. Ansari did not pursue this matter with Iran government, much to the discomfiture of the staff.
One R&AW officer D.B. Mathur used to procure inside information about Kashmiris from India being indoctrinated at a centre in Qom, near Tehran. Confidential reports were regularly sent to New Delhi, with Ansari’s knowledge; Ansari was against some of these reports. One morning, in August 1991, Mathur was kidnapped by the Iranian intelligence men. Hamid Ansari sent a casual report on Mathur’s disappearance to New Delhi but did not take up the matter seriously with the Iranian government. It is being alleged by the R&AW officers that it was Ansari himself who gave Mathur’s name to the Iranian government. The staff was agitated. After two days, the wives of over 30 staff members protested outside the embassy, with whom Ansari refused to meet.
After a R&AW officer, N.K. Sood from Tehran called Mr. R K Yadav, the author of a stellar work on RAW “Mission R&WA” in New Delhi to inform about this, who met Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who in turn spoke to Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao; prompt action was taken. Within a few hours, Mathur was released. He was subjected to third-degree torture by the Iranians to get inside information about R&AW agents which he refused to divulge.
Thereafter, an embassy’s security officer Mohammad Umar was approached by the Iranian intelligence men to work for them. Umar refused and informed his senior, who in turn briefed Hamid Ansari. A few weeks later, Umar was kidnapped by the Iranians, badly beaten up and thrown on a secluded spot outside Tehran. Ansari again did not protest to the Iranian authorities and rather asked him to remain silent. In turn, Umar was sent back to India, with Ansari recommending that he should be barred from foreign postings, despite R&AW officers stating that he was innocent.
According to a report by The Sunday Guardian, the letter also mentions that how the R&AW station chief, P.K. Venugopal, was beaten up the Iranian intelligence and how Hamid Ansari turned a blind eye towards unethical Indan visas being given to people of false grounds after bribery. Moreover, the letter also mentions Ansari’s long meetings with the Pakistan Ambassador in Tehran, which were not reported to the MEA.
Ansari’s agenda to target R&AW officials to severe that one of the officers, N.K. Sood, told The Sunday Guardian that Ansari even went to the extent of recommending the closing down of R&AW stations in Iran.
All these accounts are mentioned in R K Yadav’s work, “Mission R&WA”. The stellar work gives a detailed account of Ansari’s antics in Tehran. He mentioned that Ansari had “developed very good personal relations within the Iranian government but did not want to rake up these kidnapping issues to bring any sort of bitterness”.
According to R K Yadav, most of R&AW operatives felt insecure due to Ansari’s attitude. Since the embassies and consulates are supposed to act as enablers for the intelligence exercises, Ansari’s actions would have been a hindrance to not only diplomatic relations, but also, would have been a threat to India’s security.