LUCKNOW: Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) arrested an agent of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Mohammad Rashid, in a joint operation with Military Intelligence unit, in Varanasi, PM Modi’s parliamentary constituency, on Monday.
Rashid (23) had been passing on important information, pictures and videos of military and CRPF installations to his handlers across the border in Pakistan since March 2019. Rashid was brought to Lucknow by the ATS team for interrogation.
Even the military intelligence team is believed to have joined the ATS in the interrogation of the arrested ISI agent. The suspect has been booked under Section 123 (concealing with intent to facilitate design to wage war) of Indian Penal Code.
As per the sources, the military intelligence unit developed the input through months of discreet surveillance and analysis with support from other central agencies. Finally, a joint team of military intelligence and UP ATS was formed to identify the suspect on the ground and neutralise him.
After weeks of reconnaissance, physical surveillance, it emerged that Mohammad Rashid had been passing on information to Pakistan. Consequently, Rashid was called for the initial round of questioning on January 16, 2020. His mobile phone was also checked to corroborate his involvement with ISI. After getting concrete indications of his involvement in espionage net, Rashid was zeroed in on Monday.
As per sources, the suspected ISI agent had shared photos and videos of several places including Air Force Selection Board, Kashi Vishwanath temple, Gyanvapi, Sankat Mochan temple, Cantt railway station, Dashashwamedh Ghat (in Varanasi), Agra Fort, Naini Bridge and Ardh Kumbh Mela (in Prayagraj/ Allahabad, UP), CRPF camps (Chandauli and Amethi), Gorakhpur railway station, Renukoot Thermal Power Plant (Sonbhadra), India Gate in Delhi, Ajmer Sharif (Rajasthan), Nagpur railway station (Maharashtra) and others.
The sources also claimed that Rashid had sent video and photos of recent protests at Banaras Hindu University (BHU) and anti- CAA/ NRC protests in Lucknow. The last known communication of Rashid with his handlers was on January 13, 2020.
As per the details of his remuneration from ISI, Rashid got a T-shirt in Pakistan's nation colours (Green & White) in May 2019 and a payment of Rs 5,000 in July 2019.
The sources claimed that Rashid was also asked by the ISI bosses to set up a shop near the Army installation in Jodhpur to monitor their movements during October-November 2019. He was assured a sum of Rs 1,00,000 and monthly rental of Rs 10,000-15,000 for the purpose.
As per the military intelligence sources, Rashid belonged to Chaurhat under Mughalsarai police station area in Chanduali district. Son of one Idris Ahmad, Rashid used to live in Chhittupur near BHU in Varanasi and had been engaged in poster and banner sticking.
As per the highly placed military intelligence sources, Rashid had purportedly visited his maternal aunt based in Karachi in 2018. In Karachi, Rashid came in contact with ISI through whatsapp and a mobile phone was recovered from him.
As per the local sources, Rashid had been staying with his maternal grandfather (Nana) and uncle (Mama) in Chandauli, in Varanasi division due to the troubled marriage of his parents – father Idris Ahmad and mother Shehzadi Begum. Rashid, a class VIII pass out, had worked at a tailoring shop and medical store in Varanasi before taking up the task of fixing flexi signboards to earn his livelihood.
Rashid used to visit his relatives in Orangi Town, one of the largest slum in the world, in Karchi during 2017, 2018 and 2019, said the sources. During one of his visits, he was introduced to two ISI personnel -- Ashim and Amad by his cousin.
The ISI personnel entrusted him to provide Indian numbers for their use on WhatsApp and photos/videos/information on movement and deployment of Army units. He was also tasked to send information about sensitive places and protests/rallies in India. They promised him money and assured help him marry his cousin whom Rashid was in love with in Karachi.
On return, Rashid provided the One Time Password (OTP) of two his mobile numbers to ISI handlers. They, subsequently, created two WhatsApp accounts on Indian numbers, which were later used by Pakistani agencies to trap Indian defence personnel.
However, talking to media persons, Rashid’s mother said that the family had no inkling about his anti-national activities. “If he is found guilty of working against the antion, he should be punished,” she said.