At a time when the armed forces are going through a rough patch that has witnessed muckraking, politicking and the loss of lives due to the protracted use of defective equipment, the discovery that Pakistan’s Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) has penetrated into the Indian military apparatus has come as an unexpected blow to the Ministry of Defence.
When Inderpal Singh Kushwaha, who has served as personal assistant to several senior Army officers, received visitors at his Cariappa Marg residence in Jhansi Cantonment on February 23, it was not business as usual. Sleuths from the Anti-Terror Unit (ATU) tracking the footprints of a suspected ISI mole, working for Pakistan from within the Army, were armed with intelligence inputs suggesting that Kushwaha may be guilty of aiding a spy. A top Army source said the 51-year-old mole had shipped top military secrets to his ISI handler Sikander in Pakistan. The arrest of the mole has thrown the South Block into a state of fear. The secret documents recovered from Kushwaha’s residence included deployment details of the Army’s Arjun tank regiments, CDs containing classified information on war games, classified minutes of the meetings involving senior army officers, a copy of a presentation done by the Gorkha regiment, the annual confidential reports of Army officers and more. Suspicious financial transactions brought Kushwaha onto the Intel radar; he was immediately put on electronic surveillance.
Source revealed that Kushwaha, who retired as a subedar in October, 2013, had used his position to gain access to the files. ATU sleuths also recovered CDs containing secret coded communications downloaded from the Army’s intranet server.
Some of the seized documents date as far back as 2005, suggesting that the damage done was extensive. Kushwaha’s last posting was as personal assistant to the Brigadier of 31 Artillery brigade in Jhansi, a specialised unit dedicated to providing heavy weapons support during war. Kushwaha had been posted at various places including Kota, Jaipur and Siliguri.
“What is shocking is the recovery from his possession, the ultra sensitive minutes of senior Army officers’ meetings and also specific details of tank deployments. So far, four banks accounts in his name in the ICICI, PNB and SBI have been unearthed and a team of officials are already examining the transactions,” sources said. Investigators feel that further interrogation of the ISI mole would reveal more ISI spies in the Army. “Although over 30 ISI modules have been neutralised in the past three years, the documents recovered reveal that he was the biggest ISI mole who had access to top-secret documents,” they added.