Security Issues

In India, a centre will investigate Havana Syndrome cases

Authorities are investigating Havana Syndrome, a peculiar collection of mental health problems suffered by US intelligence and embassy workers in India.

What is Havana Syndrome?

  • The phrase “Havana Syndrome” first appeared in Cuba in late 2016, when US diplomats at the newly opened US embassy in Havana reported symptoms such as cerebral pressure, headaches, and confusion. The cause of these symptoms aroused first suspicions of a “sonic attack” staged by Cuban intelligence.
  • Following the Cuban event, American personnel stationed in China, Russia, Poland, Georgia, Taiwan, Colombia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Austria, and even Washington DC, including near the White House, reported identical symptoms.

India’s Havana Syndrome

  • As of July 2023, the 2021 event involving a US intelligence official in India was the country’s only reported case of Havana Syndrome.
  • Indian Security Organisation: According to Indian security officials, they are not aware of any agency that possesses such microwave-based counter-espionage equipment.
  • Given India’s good relations with the US, officials believe it is improbable that an Indian agency or foreign force would target US leaders in this fashion.

The Possible Origins of Havana Syndrome

  • Microwave Exposure: According to scientific evidence and medical exams of the patients, high-powered microwaves may have injured or interfered with the neurological system, resulting in the described symptoms.
  • The disease was thought to be produced by high-powered microwave rays emitted through a specialised device known as a “microwave weapon.”
  • Counter-Intelligence Tactic: Since the Cold War, both Russia and the United States have experimented with employing microwaves as a counter-intelligence tactic.

Debunking the Havana Syndrome Theory:

  • Inadequate Evidence: Despite years of data collecting and experimentation, the United States has yet to find conclusive evidence supporting the existence of a “microwave weapon.”
  • Amplified Psychological Illness: Some medical specialists believe the syndrome is a psychological disease exacerbated by fear of being targeted.
  • Relationship Impact: In 2023, a report from various US security agencies suggested that foreign foes were unlikely to be behind the “anomalous health incidents,” which may have harmed US-Cuba ties.


  • The enigmatic Havana Syndrome continues to confound researchers and politicians around the world, with no conclusive evidence of its origins or causes.
  • As India investigates the matter in response to the current plea, the global enigma surrounding Havana Syndrome continues to be a source of concern for intelligence agencies and governments alike.
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