BALASORE: With the arrested of a youth for his alleged links with Pakistan Security Agency ISI, the tremor of espionage seems to have resurfaced in the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the country’s elite defence establishment.
In a major breakthrough, Balasore police on Friday arrested a contractual employee of Integrated Test Range (ITR) off the Odisha coast on the charges of sharing vital strategic information with suspected agents working against Government of India. A number sophisticated missiles of the country are test fired from this test range every year.
The employee Iswar Chandra Behera (35), a native of Kantipur village under Baisinga police limits in Mayurbhanj district was picked up from his home after a joint investigation by the Central Intelligence Bureau (IB), State Intelligence Wing and local police.
A Plus three pass out from Remuna College, Behera had joined ITR with a monthly salary of Rs 8,000 in August 2007 and was working as a contractual videographer in the CCTV section of control tower in ITR.
Sources said following the IB inputs, a special wing of State police led by Balasore SP Awinash Kumar tracked his movements and caught him. DIG (Eastern Range) Asheet Panigrahi said though he initially denied his links but later confessed that he was sharing information from the test range to the agent. He has been booked under various sections of anti-national act and criminal conspiracy.
Police have seized two cell phones, a computer, one hard disc, pen drives, bank passbooks, bank account statements and a UPS from his house. Stored data and information are being analysed by technical persons.
He was in connection with the suspected ISI agents for more than one year and has received Rs 35,000 in six installments in between December 2013 and December 2014. He had received money orders twice, each of Rs 5,000 from Meerut while four transactions – twice Rs 5,000 and twice Rs 7,500 were deposited in his Chandipur SBI account through net banking.
“Preliminary investigations revealed that he has received money from Abu Dhabi, Meerut, Mumbai, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh. On the pretext of repairing his camera he used to visit Kolkata where he met the agent. We have proof of their telephonic talks for at least ten times and the calls were from Pakistan. We have only verified his one bank account among many others which are being checked,” he said.
The DIG informed that Behera was sharing defence secrecy and information about the testing of missiles and vital defence installations located in Chandipur and Wheeler Island. As he was a videographer he had close access to all sensitive areas in both the test ranges.
“A case under sections 121 (A), 120 (B) of IPC and Sections 3, 4, 5 of Official Secrets Act, 1923 has been registered against him. He has been produced in the court. We have appealed the court to take him on remand for 14 days,” he said.
Intelligence sources said the Pakistan agent had introduced himself with Behera as Sribastav, a scientist of Hyderabad-based Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL). Though the agent had given him two cell phone numbers, it is learnt, they did not receive any call from this end.
“They would call back him from nine digit numbers to collect information and in lieu they transfer him money. We are verifying whether the agent has visited the place,” the source informed.
Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) is the premier intelligence service of Pakistan along with two others Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Military Intelligence (MI), operationally responsible for providing critical national security and intelligence assessment to the Government of Pakistan.
This incident assumes significance in the wake of possible terror strike threats from four Pakistan-based terror outfits in Odisha along with Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. The States were informed that the terrorist groups Jamat-Ud-Dawa, Hizbul Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e- Mohammed had dispatched four terror modules to India, which may carry out the attacks.
Earlier in 1995, a couple of Sunhat area of Balasore was arrested from Chandipur for allegedly supplying information to Bangladeshi operatives. These two, who are no more now, were released after languishing in jail for over ten years.