Analysis

Love for Urdu, Sufism? Devout, non-servile? She sure is spy!

The most plausible reason for demonizing Madhuri Gupta may be her spiritual inclinations and fascination with Sufi thoughts. Understandably, she could not be at the same wave-length as hawkish leeches dominating the ministry. Her belief that babus of Indian embassies must concentrate on doing at least a little bit to facilitate peoples of the two countries to develop healthy relations was anathema to the topmost echelons of the county
By NM Sampathkumar Iyangar

Indian Embassy staffer in Islamabad, Madhuri Gupta, who was called ‘for consultation’ on SAARC summit, has suddenly been discovered to be a Pakistan spy. The media gives even more importance to her than the IPL scandal, providing Indians with much needed distraction from skyrocketing inflation, insecurity, and all-pervasive corruption. She is charged with offences under Official Secrets Act, which can get her up to 14 years in jail. The buzz around is that the 53-year-old officer, known for meticulous service all along, is a double agent who "divulged important information to enemy country." The draconian Act, enacted in 1923, is one of the remnants of the colonial rule with which rulers of the day could virtually ruin anyone. The British devised it post-World War I to prohibit everyone, except persons appointed by the colonial masters in positions of authority, from handling "official secrets." The exempted category included several ‘upwardly mobile’ Indians professing complete loyalty to the Crown. They were employed to discipline the ‘natives’ and prevent any rebellion. The British government, however, relied on courts to confirm whether a suspect committed the offence and was indeed guilty. The judiciary those days was, by and large, fair in pronouncing verdicts. The relationship between the ruling elite and the ruled has not changed much after India was declared a Republic. Rulers who inherited the biggest chunk of the colony for their own tribe use the Act more frequently to silence the voters - from whom they are supposed to derive their power. But, the neo-bosses do not depend on courts although the judiciary is only too happy to please them. After all, the ‘mainstream media’, controlled by obliging tycoons, can be manipulated more easily for a fee. The pliable media has no qualms to conduct a trial in their columns and hang the marked ones even before a chargesheet is filed. Madhuri Gupta was rich enough to engage an expensive lawyer, Joginder Dahia. After she told him, "I have been framed in this case and I am innocent," he foiled the authorities’ plan to continue keeping her in their custody and got her sent to judicial custody. She could not be treated like thousands of denizens belonging to marginalized communities, who get picked up randomly after every real or stage-managed terror act, branded as terrorists or Maoists, to be seen never again. Yet the government announced that her "confessions" would be shared with the Ministry of External Affairs to verify the importance of the information she passed on to the ‘enemy’. The Indian media circus did not waste a day to carry bizarre stories on the "sensational spy scandal". Overnight, she was projected as the Indian version of Mata Hari, executed by the French for being a German spy. The most diabolical charge against the lady, citizens were informed, was that she may have passed secret information that could put some eight RAW agents operating in Pakistan ‘on intelligence work’ in jeopardy. What the RAW personnel do in secrecy is well known. It is tragic that monstrous chunks of government budget every year go towards fomenting trouble and inciting violence in the neighbourhood as well as at home. It is part of power politics to gain ‘influence’ or to liquidate rivals. Whose interest does converting embassies into havens for the infamous RAW is also known to everyone. There is no dearth of pundits in New Delhi who are alarmed at the prospect of an end to the hostile relations with Pakistan, essentially due to the disputed territory of Kashmir. They stand to lose an attractive revenue stream - kickbacks from mega arms deals to maintain hostilities and for stationing 700,000 troopers to terrorize the population of Kashmir. No wonder, criticizing New Delhi’s preoccupation with destructive pursuits is taboo in the ‘national’ media, known for misplaced patriotism. Numerous threads about her supposed confessions were leaked out systematically for the journos to weave into sensational stories. The largest-circulated English newspaper of this country, which organizes multi-million-rupee ‘Aman ki Asha’ shows as peace offensive with Pakistan, educated its readers about her "incredulity." It said she taunted the bosses grilling her, "What took you so long (to get me)?" -- echoing the infamous FBI agent Robert Hanssen’s words when he was cornered by American counterintelligence, quoting unnamed "source" in the establishment. It never occurred to any journo who joined the chorus that the official job of the second secretary at the Indian High Commission in Pakistan was to disseminate information of interest to the people of both countries. Madhuri Gupta was not a typical file-pushing bureaucrat and earnestly kept herself fully abreast of current affairs. She took her job seriously, unlike is the case with most babus of the white elephant establishment, and ferreted out a lot of information to publicize. Leveraging her Urdu proficiency, she was popular with influential newspapers of Pakistan. Strangely, mandarins of New Delhi saw ulterior motives for what they needed to applaud her. One thread claimed that the interrogators had little doubt that the Pakistanis played on her psychological insecurities. Why she should feel insecure was not baffling to the scriptwriters. She was quite healthy and wealthy. She had inherited a house in a posh New Delhi locality, as her brother in US is not claiming a share. At 53 years of age, was entitled to receive fat salaries and hefty allowances payable to Foreign Service babus to maintain a luxurious lifestyle, paid for by the most miserable masses of the world. No wonder, she could afford to enjoy life and to have flamboyant tastes in clothes and jewelry. In a society that permits such flamboyance only to males and their dolls, she did attract a lot of resentment from superiors. To make matters worse, she was not the type to crawl in front of superiors, in an establishment noted for its sycophancy. How India’s Foreign Service establishment hires Indian journos to get disastrous lunacies of its pundits hailed was demonstrated by a columnist of a glossy magazine. His longish story, throwing light on "the spy who tipped off Pakistanis for love and for money," exposed his own, and his masters’, mindset. The magazine unmasked Madhuri Gupta thus: "She was a single woman; was meticulous in her job, unlike her colleagues; she avoided saluting her bosses to curry favours. On top of it, apart from becoming an expert in Urdu language [and not ‘our own’ Sanskrit!] and writing in prestigious magazines, she even got attracted to Sufism and wanted to do her PhD on Persian scholar Jalaluddin Rumi’s thoughts." So, the 53-year-old diplomat with an impeccable service record, the columnist reasoned, must be damned as a betrayer and spy! More ‘damning’ facts were dug out by other scribes. Accounts trickled out revealing that her family had been close to the well-known Muslim family of Ashiq Hussain Jafri in Lucknow and she infused Islamic values in her childhood. One enterprising journalist exposed her gravest sin ever: "She was really inspired by the teachings of Islam!" He speculated, "She must have converted six years ago, but was scared to announce her new faith." Yet another scribe discovered that her attraction to Sufism that condemns violence in the guise of religion may have made her turn against her own country! The most plausible reason for demonizing Gupta may be her spiritual inclinations and fascination with Sufi thoughts. Understandably, she could not be at the same wave length as hawkish leeches dominating the ministry. Her belief that babus of Indian embassies must concentrate on doing at least a little bit to facilitate peoples of the countries to develop healthy relations was anathema to the topmost echelons of the county. The devout officer was, apparently, too risky to be privy about some sinister plans in the offing. She would sure not ‘cooperate’ with the hawks -- possibly, to plunge the country into another war to divert peoples’ attention away from pathetic economic / social records. Siphoning off megabucks for themselves in the process is much easier by pushing the masses deeper into misery and some 160 million Muslims into a corner with accusations of extra-territorial loyalty toward Islamic countries. It is worth noting that the ‘breaking news’ story coincided with yet another attempt by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to mend fences with Pakistan so that gigantic funds wasted to hurt each other may be used for reforms and development. Forward movement to the peace talks, stalled by India’s insistence on atrocious preconditions, from his earlier attempts have been repeatedly brought to naught by the foreign affairs bureaucracy aided by entrenched parasites in his own party.