Pak mission staffer under scanner in espionage racket

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 01 Dec 2015 14:06:50

NEW DELHI, Nov 30 (PTI)

A PAKISTAN High Commision employee is under the scanner of Delhi Police probing an espionage racket in which an alleged ISI operative and a serving BSF personnel have been arrested.
The serving BSF head constable Abdul Rasheed was on Monday remanded in police custody till December 7 by a Delhi court which questioned the police on whether any senior official of the border guarding force was involved in the case.
Kafaitullah Khan alias Master Raja, an alleged handler of the Pakistan Intelligence Operative (PIO), was in touch with an ISI operative in Pakistan who had told him that a source in the Pakistan High Commission will help him secure visa to travel to that country, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Ravindra Yadav said. Yadav said the person in Pakistan High Commission whom the ISI operative referred to is yet to be identified but sources said it appeared he was not in the rank of a diplomat.
“Once we get some leads with further interrogation of the accused duo arrested, we shall have to approach the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) for their permission to question staff at the High Commission’s office,” said Yadav. The Crime Branch said Kafaitullah was running the espionage racket backed by ISI and he was to meet the spy agency’s handler in Pakistan to seek more “resources”.
“Is there any involvement of any senior officers?,” Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Sanjay Khanagwal asked the police during the hearing on its application seeking Rasheed’s remand. Delhi Police told the court it had not yet found complicity of any officer but the probe was on.
Khan told the police he was going to Bhopal where he was supposed to meet another PIO handler to seek information from him about the unidentified source who could easily arrange his visa, said Yadav.
Khan was, however, intercepted in Delhi on Thursday on way to Bhopal where he was also to attend a religious congregation and recruit youths for the espionage racket, he said.
During interrogation, Khan, a native of a village in Rajouri district of Jammu and Kashmir, disclosed about his cousin, Abdul Rasheed, who was posted as a head constable in the Intelligence wing of Border Security Force there, police said.
The Delhi Police is also trying to track the money trail from Pakistan to India -- routed through the Middle East, to pay off spies operating in a suspected pan-India network.
During his interrogation Khan told the police his counterpart in Pakistan had promised him huge money for passing on secret and confidential information. When Khan started doing so, he was put on a permanent pay roll and promised performance-based appraisals, said an official.
“Records obtained so far from bank accounts in Jammu and Rajouri district have revealed that Khan used to get a fixed pay of around Rs 20,000 per month through money transfers,” he said.
Almost all the money transfers received by Khan were routed either through UAE or through Saudi Arabia. Further investigation revealed that the money actually came from Pakistan, said the official. The police are, therefore, also investigating that money trail, said an official privy to the investigation.
Khan was taken to Rajouri district and Rasheed too was arrested following a raid, a senior police official said.
“The police recovered secret and confidential documents in connection with force deployment locations, movements and patrolling routes of security forces from possession of both the accused,” he said.
Both of them have been booked under provisions of the Official Secrets Act.
Meanwhile, a Crime Branch team sent to Jammu is also looking for an Army personnel suspected to be close to Khan and believed to have allegedly passed on secret information to Pakistan’s ISI that could pose a threat to national security, the official said.
Khan was recruited in Jammu and Kashmir police several years ago. Later, he quit the job and became a library assistant at a senior secondary school in Majankote area in Rajouri district, the official said.
In 2013, he visited Pakistan where he came into contact with an ISI agent and thus began his journey as a spy.
Khan soon started cultivating sources in the Indian Army and BSF, and some of them allegedly started passing him secret documents, the official added.
According to the police, information was largely passed on through e-mail, WhatsApp and Viber networks. Khan was given specific tasks by the PIO which were mainly related to deployment of security forces and Air Force operations.
The official denied that Khan’s earlier visit to Gujranwala in Pakistan, where many of his relatives live, had anything to do with any source in the High Commission as he was not in touch with intelligence operatives then.