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Cops probing role of two women who were friendly with Pak mission staffers &may have been part of espionage network

FEMALE partners, handsome money and expensive gifts: these were the tools used by a ring of Pakistani spies to lure Indian defence personnel and extract sensitive details about deployment of forces. The multiple ISI modules running across the country have their headquarters inside the safe confines of the Pakistan high commission in New Delhi.

The revelations emerged after the Delhi Police crime branch detained a Pakistan embassy staffer identified as Mehmood Akhtar and arrested two Rajasthan residents over allegations of spying and stealing defence- related documents.

Crime branch sleuths are also probing the role of two Delhi- based women, who were " too friendly" with Akhtar. Officials are trying to establish if they were used to gather

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defence- related classified information. Akhtar was declared " persona nongrata" for espionage activities and asked to leave India.

But, Pakistan cried foul, saying Akhtar was not involved in any espionage activity.

However, cops have recovered sensitive documents from Akhtar's possession including a fake Aadhaar card. According to a senior police officer, ISI operatives were using women to lay honey traps for defence personnel.

The Intelligence Bureau ( IB) and crime branch are now scanning the operations of directorate of defence forces and paramilitary forces as they are the ones who handle sensitive information about exact deployment and movement of soldiers across the frontiers.

Even in the past, the ISI has used honey traps to lure Indian officers. In December last year, Indian Air Force ( IAF) officer Ranjith KK was arrested from Punjab's Bathinda city as he allegedly passed on secret information to a honey trap set by the Pakistani agency. The spies had created a fake profile in the name of Damini McNaught, who claimed to be an executive of a UKbased media firm.

McNaught claimed that she required IAF- related information for an article she was writing for a news magazine.

The role of several defence and BSF personnel is under the scanner over suspicions of having leaked sensitive documents to the two arrested men, Maulana Ramzan and Subhash Jangir, both residents of Nagaur in Rajasthan.

Shoaib, a Jodhpur- based passport agent allegedly involved in the espionage racket, was detained near his home town this evening, police said.

Akhtar was strategically posted at the visa department of the high commission so that he could cultivate possible recruits. The two women and those arrested from Rajasthan came in touch with Akhtar when they approached the Pakistan embassy for visa. His main job was to spread his tentacles in Gujarat and Rajasthan.

" Akhtar was an important asset of the ISI as he was a havildar in the 40 Baluch Regiment of the Pakistan army. He was recruited and trained by the ISI three years ago," said an officer.

Akhtar trapped poor and needy people to work for the ISI by promising them money and easy access in Pakistan. The Indians were deployed to gather secret information about the movement of Indian forces.

Akhtar would meet the spies at some public place once a month and pay them a minimum of Rs 30,000 for each piece of information.

A senior officer said they have found the involvement of at least 10 other staffers of the embassy, but since they have not been caught redhanded criminal action against them have not been initiated. But the ministry of external affairs has been informed about the conduct of the other people.

" Technical surveillance and physical shadowing was used for several months to track Akhtar's movements.

Though he had been cultivating sources for a long time and meeting them at public places in Delhi this was the only second time that he was exchanging bundles of documents near Delhi zoo," said Delhi Police officials.

On being arrested, Akhtar said he was an Indian citizen and showed an Aadhaar card bearing a Chandni Chowk address. When probed further, he claimed he enjoyed diplomatic immunity. Police then contacted the foreign ministry and Pakistani officials identified him.

Cops found information related to the deployment of the Indian Army and BSF in border areas. Akhtar had maps of BSF movement in his possession. He also had visa papers and money transfer documents.

ISI using women to lure defence personnel

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Oct 28, 2016
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