(Bhagat Ram Talwar: Sherlock is way behind him) Ian Fleming’s James Bond and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes must have given you some awe-inspiring goosebumps. These fictional protagonists have undoubtedly outshone any other characters in the history of Crime-thriller literature, but with conviction, one can bet that they are nowhere close to an Indian spy who shook the world.
Bhagat Ram Talwar might seem to be a very dull name with almost no presumable significance, but this name served best to his purpose, his low-key life never made his works perilous, and though Bond and Sherlock were adept at destroying any danger when it was in front of them, Talwar never let one raise its head up.
The story starts with Netaji’s escape from house arrest in India. In 1941, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose embarked on his secret mission to sneak out of India and support the cause of Indian independence from outside the nation’s borders. But escaping from the British eyes was not an easy task and Netaji knew that the only feasible escape plan was to go to the Italian embassy in Kabul.
The way to Peshawar was fairly tractable and Netaji swiftly managed to reach there, but due to the sensitivity of the British India’s North West Frontier region, he himself knew that escaping out to Kabul was not a child’s play. In a complete fix, Netaji was utterly unnerved. When there seemed no way out, there came a leader of some Kirti Kisan Party, a Punjabi-communist party, who offered to facilitate Netaji’s journey from Peshawar to Kabul. Bhagat Ram Talwar did his work in a very sly manner. After reaching Kabul, he established all the requisite relations with the Italian embassy and finally led to the escape of Subhash Chandra Bose.
ENTRY TO THE WORLD OF SECRECY
The effectiveness of his diplomatic dealings with the Italians came as a complete surprise to the Italian ambassador who recognized Bhagat Ram Talwar’s potential. His ability to execute operations in the most surreptitious manner compelled the Italian embassy that this man could prove pivotal in their future operations.
Abhewr, the extinct German Military Intelligence Unit, too noticed this guy. Since Germany was ready to roll out an enormous amount of money to subvert British defenses in the Afghanistan region, Talwar was indubitably the go-to man. Germans soon took him up and now Bhagat Ram Talwar was working for Italians as well as the Germans and amusingly neither of them knew that they were sharing a spy. For the Italians, he was Rahmat Khan and for the Germans, he was Faqir of Ipi.
Though the adventures with these two countries were optimum to satiate the ravenous appetite of Bhagat Ram Talwar for secrecy, but following the German invasion of Russia, his inner conscience drove him to contact the Russians.
DIGGING THE PAST
Talwar’s father was an influential “zamindar” in the North West British India. His family maintained warm relations with British authorities until the gruesome massacre at Jallianwala Bagh. The 1919 horrible massacre changed everything and Talwar’s father now rose up as a resistance against the colonial rule and consequently was stripped of his land rights. A little over a decade later, the colonial rulers hanged Talwar’s brother for attempting to assassinate the then Governor of Punjab. These agonizing memories drew him in great proximities of Communism (later Talwar’s Kirti Kisan Party merged with CPI) which finally led to the collusion of Russians and Talwar.
Ergo, Bhagat Ram Talwar leaked all the German and Italian inputs to Russia and in return Russian administration made him their most valuable agent in the British India. In actuality, Russian revealed the fact that they had someone whom the Germans and Italians trusted in and hence KGB ordered him to continue his work with the Germans and Italians. Finally, Bhagat Ram Talwar was working for three international intelligence agencies.
SHAKING HANDS WITH THE CROWN
Owning to Talwar’s adroit maneuvering skills, Russians shared him with the British for the biggest spy operation of World War II, thus making Talwar the only to have received this honor. Talwar’s thrilling skills even amazed Peter Fleming, elder brother of Ian Fleming and the director of the whole cooperation mission. Codenamed “Silver” by the Brits, Bhagat Ram Talwar leaked out the information to the Russians and the Brits regarding German sabotage plans and explosives and continued to fill German ears with falsehoods and balderdash scripted by the British Delhi Division (D-Division), from the Viceroy House in Delhi.
THE END OF IT ALL
This game continued till Indian independent. Later, Silver disappeared in the confusion surrounding the partition of India only to emerge later in 1973. While attending the first International Netaji Seminar convened in Kolkata, this guy with a broken English, talked about his ‘fifty-five days with Netaji’ and his extensive help to the Azad Hind Movement. But, as usual, here also he was selling a lie as he never mentioned how his betrayal of the Germans may have led to the collapse of Netaji’s plans to ensure India’s independence through Germany’s assistance.
Our spy donned the names Silver, Bhagat Ram Talwar, Rahmat Khan, Faqir of Ipi (and many other unrecorded ones). He fooled Italians, duped Germans, extracted millions out of the Brits and supported the Russians. No Bond or Sherlock can ever afford such a dramatic career and that too in reality. Inexplicably incredible it is to ascertain how a man with no formal education and training lived up to perform such marvelous feats that confounded every person he came in touch with.
So now you decide whether Bond or Sherlock can ever even match up to our Silver’s potential!
Mihir Bose has researched extensively on Bhagat Ram Talwar and you can buy his best selling book!
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