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DRDO espionage case: Odisha Crime Branch to take Interpol help to locate UK number

Sources said the lady handler had been calling the accused from different locations after initially establishing a link with them through WhatsApp. 

Published: 30th September 2021 10:42 AM  |   Last Updated: 30th September 2021 10:42 AM   |  A+A-

The Integrated Test Range (ITR) of DRDO in Odisha

By Express News Service

BHUBANESWAR: The Crime Branch is likely to seek help of Interpol to ascertain the details of a UK phone number which was allegedly used by a woman ISI operative to honey trap five DRDO employees for extracting defence secrets.

The lady conduit had lured two contractual employees of Chandipur-based Integrated Test Range (ITR) on the pretext of marriage while a regular staff was trapped to keep a track on the movement of the facility’s Director. 

Apart from the Crime Branch, the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) are trying to find out whether the woman was a direct recruit or working at the behest of any agent and what she did with the information shared with her.

Preliminary investigation revealed the woman was in contact with the accused for over eight months and used a UK number, possibly operated through a virtual SIM (e-SIM). She had taken control of a mobile phone of one of the accused through which she was keeping a tab on the activities inside the test range.

Since virtual SIM is an application-enabled service that requires the user to install an app to use a number and it is possible for one to have numbers of different countries with the help of the technology, the probe agency will ascertain the location of the user through Interpol.

Addl DGP (Crime Branch) Sanjeeb Panda said the accused confessed to have spoken to the woman operative through WhatsApp calls several times, which including the video calls were from the UK number.  

"The photograph of the woman has been obtained from one of the video footages extracted from the seized mobile phones. We will seek the help of Central agencies to move the Interpol for its assistance. The probe can proceed further after the location of the number is ascertained. We may take the accused persons on remand once again to cross-check the information," he said.

Sources said that the lady handler had been calling the accused from different locations after initially establishing a link with them through WhatsApp. 

She had regular conversations with them on voice over IP (VoIP). The IAF is learnt to have interrogated them to ascertain whether they have shared any information on indigenously built unmanned aerial vehicles.

Meanwhile, the ITR has initiated a process to disengage the arrested contractual employees and terminate the permanent staff. On September 13, Balasore police had arrested four contractual employees and one permanent employee of the test facility for allegedly leaking defence inforwmation to Pakistani agents.



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