People say deception is an art but for this Indian spy Silver, deception would be an understatement. Silver: The Indian spy who fooled the Russians,British,Italians,Japanese and the Nazis during WW2. Everybody knows Ian Fleming as he was the creator of bond series but this story starts with his brother Peter Fleming. In 1943 Peter Fleming recruited an Indian intelligence officer, who was the master of deception and code named him as Silver. This story was lost somewhere till Mihir Bose inked it in his book which is ‘Silver: The Spy Who Fooled the Nazis, by Mihir Bose’.
So the story goes back to 1941, the date was 22nd February and on a sunny afternoon a small clean shaven man knocks the door of Italian embassy in Kabul and is immediately surrounded by the guards around there and when asked the purpose replies in a firm voice that he is a cook here. The guards never doubted him as he looked like a local with a cap, a long short and flowing trousers. He walks into the room and in the room there is a picture of Benito Mussolini on the wall and an Italian flag. The Italian ambassador gave him a weird look and clearly he was not pleased to see him as his mind was on the second world war which was fought far away from Afghanistan between British and Nazis and their Italian allies.
All the foreign diplomats are aware of the locals as they could be spies and when the Italian ambassador asked what are you here for, the man replied he has been sent by Herr Thomas who was the head of the German company Siemens in Kabul. This made the ambassador more livid and he again asked in anger What For!. The anger from Italian ambassador didn’t scare the man and he replied firmly,’ I don’t know, I have been asked to see you’. The ambassador looked at the man and called Thomas and said ‘My name is Pietro Quaroni and I am the ambassador of the Italy in Kabul.’ Thomas told Quaroni that his name was Rahmat Khan and he is neither a cook nor an Afghan but an Indian helping Subhash Chandra Bose to free his country from the British rule. As per the legend the British found Bose more dangerous than Mahatma Gandhi and they feared him because of his aggressive nature. Subhash Chandra Bose was about to be arrested by the British in India and with the help of Rahmat Khan he escaped to Kabul.
Bose had been in Kabul for a long time now and he was unable to get any help from Russians or the Germans and so he turned to Italians to help him to escape from Kabul. Pietro Quaroni with the help of Rahmat Khan ensured a safe passage of Subhash Chandra Bose from Kabul to Germany.
The story of Indian spy:
Rahmat Khan’s real name was Bhagat Ram Talwar and he had given himself a Muslim name because he was in Kabul. He was from the North west frontier province of India. He was the son of a wealthy land owner and he had joined the communist party of India. After escorting Bose, Talwar became the most successful and expensive spies of second world war (WW2). It is said that by 1945 he had spied for Italy, Germany, Russia, Japan and Britain. Peter Fleming took his services in British India and named him as Silver. Peter Fleming was a graduate from Oxford and Talwar had rudimentary education in India and Fleming states that Talwar spoke ‘Broken English’. What brought the duo together was their love for Deception and intelligence.
Dangerous Days in Afghanistan:
Talwar and Bose had just crossed the Indian border and they were celebrating their success in Afghanistan. They met a Pathan there and when he asked, Where they were from? Silver had never been to Afghanistan but heard of a village named as Lalpura and he said he was from Lalpura. The Pathan then replied that he was from Lalpura and he had never seen him there. Silver then told the truth that he has come from across the border and mixed it smartly with a lie stating that Bose was his uncle and he is deaf and dumb and he has come here to seek the blessings of a Muslim saint.
Bose had come to Afghanistan to seek help from Russians and thought through the soviet connections of Silver he could easily get help. Silver had no Russian connection and then they moved to Germans and they kept delaying the process and in desperation Silver seeked helped from Italian and met Quaroni. After meeting Quaroni, It all worked out and Bose was given a passport and he was off to Berlin. Quaroni thought Silver could be of great help from Afghanistan and they could weaken the British from this backdoor. Silver agreed and demanded money to which the Italian obliged.
Silver Fooling the Germans and Italians:
In the span of four years from 1941 to 1945, Silver made 12 trips on foot to and from Kabul delivering domestic information. Silver on his trips collected a cash of around 22 crores of today’s worth. He gave some to his communist party in India. Silver never wanted to help the fascist in Germany or Italy and then he started providing them false information. Silver took the help of a fiction writer and invented an organisation named as All-India National Revolutionary Committee. They wrote stories there and convinced the Germans of the fictitious work that Silver was doing.
On June 22nd Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa, which was the invasion of Soviet union. Russian was the homeland of communist and there Silver faced a dilemma that how he could he be helping the Nazis, when they are destroying the communist homeland which was Russia. On September 1941 silver finally got inside the Russian embassy. As per the legend it is said that after a night of heavy drinking, Russians accepted silver as one of their own and they were delighted as they had a man whom the Nazis trusted the most. In a span of few months silver was made the joint spy of Russia and British and in 1943 he came under Peter Fleming who ran D(Deception) division in Delhi.
Like the Italian Embassy, Silver with the help of Quaroni met the Japanese in Kabul. The Japanese were planning to invade India and thought Silver would be a great source of Information. Silver gave the information of the Japanese spies that were sent to India and Fleming smartly converted them into double agents.
Indian Independence and the truth about Silver:
WW2 or the second world war ended in 1945 and after two years Indian independence was declared in 1947, which Subhash Chandra Bose was not a part as he died in a plane crash two years ago. After Independence the great migration happened and Silver came to India as he was a Hindu. Till 30 years nothing was heard of Silver and then in 1970 Silver wrote that how he helped in India’s freedom and had spied for half the world mostly axis powers and still remained loyal to Bose throughout. Silver died in 1983 at 75 years of age.
Read the amazing entire story by Mihir Bose in his book
Silver: The Spy Who Fooled the Nazis, pre order it now from Amazon, it would be available from July 3, 2017.