Two men have been arrested from Rajasthan for passing on sensitive military information to Pakistan.
New Delhi, June 8:
Rajasthan Police on Monday arrested two civil defence employees in Jaipur based on Military Intelligence (MI) inputs that they had been passing on sensitive information to Pakistan’s spy agency ISI.
The duo has been identified as Vikas Kumar (29), a civil defence employee at an army ammunition depot near Shri Ganganagar (Rajasthan) and Chiman Lal (22), a civil contractual employee of the army’s Mahajan Field Firing Range (MFFR), Bikaner. The two men have been arrested for working as espionage agents of the Pakistani intelligence agency.
The MI Lucknow’s operation named Desert Chase assumes great importance as the Shri Ganganagar Ammunition Depot and Bikaner MMFR are strategically important military installations on the western front along the Pakistan border.
The work on the “operation” began in August 2019, when the MI Lucknow, through its sleuths, learnt about an espionage agent near Sri Ganganagar who was passing military information to his handlers in Pakistan. The individual was identified as Vikas Kumar – the civil defence employee at an army ammunition depot near Sri Ganganagar.
Vikas Kumar was first lured by a Pakistani intelligence operative using a Facebook profile in the garb of “Anoshka Chopra” being run from Multan, Pakistan by a young Pakistani woman. The MI unit could ascertain that Vikas Kumar was passing military information related to ORBAT (Order of Battle; composition and order of a military fighting formation), ammunition (photos, state, quantity, type, arrival, departure), units coming for firing practice/military exercise to MFFR and personality traits of senior army officers in the lieu of money. It was also found that Vikas Kumar is receiving payments in three of his (and his brother’s) bank accounts.
The MI Lucknow shared the case with UP ATS in the month of January 2020. Vikas’s activities were monitored and analysed by a joint team of MI Lucknow and UP ATS. The operation was code-named ‘Desert Chase’.
Based on these, it was learnt that Vikas is acquiring photos of a “water distribution register” at a water point/pump house in MFFR through a contractual civil employee named Chiman Lal. The development of the case was halted due to the start of the lockdown period all across the country.
Finally, the case shared with Rajasthan Police Intelligence in the first week of May 2020. A joint team was formed between Rajasthan Police-Intelligence and MI Lucknow.
Fresh leads were found as new payments were detected along with a trail of sensitive information being passed on to Pakistan by two accused..
Both, Vikas Kumar and Chiman Lal were arrested on Monday.
Vikas Kumar reportedly confessed that he had received a friend request from the Pakistani intelligence operative’s Facebook profile, “Anoshka Chopra” in the month of March/April 2019 and had accepted. They became very friendly, shared their WhatsApp numbers with each other and started chatting and making audio/video calls.
The intelligence operative used to use an Indian WhatsApp number and claimed she is working with Canteen Store Department (CSD) headquarters at Mumbai. Vikas Kumar joined several WhatsApp groups on her request. She was in all these groups, which also had several serving defence and civil defence employees as members.
Subsequently, she introduced Vikas Kumar to her ‘boss’ Amit Kumar Singh (a pseudo name used by the handler) who was also using an Indian WhatsApp number. He, at times, claimed to be from CSD and at times form Military Engineer Service (MES). Once Vikas and the Pakistani handler, ‘Amit Kumar Singh’ started communicating, ‘Anoshka Chopra’ blocked him from her Facebook and WhatsApp.
By April 2019, the handler convinced Vikas to send him military information in exchange for money. Thereafter, the handler regularly gave Vikas Kumar tasks and he delivered by providing sensitive information on Indian Army.
Vikas Kumar acquired the information he passed on his handlers either himself or through Chiman Lal. The latter used to regularly send photos of “water-distribution-register” kept at one of the pump houses of MFFR with details of army number, rank, name, unit, total strength and quantity of water drawn on almost daily basis.
Vikas Kumar confessed to having passed information of the following nature to his handler in Pakistan:
Details received from Chiman Lal about Army units and their strength coming to MFFR.
Details of ammunition coming to his ammunition depot including their type, quantity, mode of transportation, date of arrival on a routine basis (almost every time it came to his notice).
Details of ammunition (to include their type, quantity and mode/date of transportation) further distributed/transferred to local army establishments/units (including two local brigades) and elsewhere from his ammunition depot.
ORBAT (Order of battle; composition related details) of two local army brigades and all changes in them as they came to his notice.
Name, rank and personality traits of some Senior Military Officers in the two army brigades nearby, his ammunition depot and others who visited the military station.
Photos of arms, ammunition, tanks other military vehicles (with their tactical numbers) at MFFR whenever he could visit it after April 2019.
Somewhere in the month of March/April 2020, someone in one of the WhatsApp groups (the PIO had asked him to join) had warned all the members that the group was a fraud and is being run by Pakistani spies. Apart from that, on multiple occasions, Vikas could realise that both ‘Anoshka Chopra’ and ‘Amit Kumar Singh’ are from inimical intelligence agencies. However, he continued to pass on critical information to them for money. The last communication between Vikas and his handler was as recently as Sunday, June 7.
Vikas confessed to having received at least Rs 75,000 in total from his Pakistani handler for the information he has shared during this entire period. He used to receive them mostly on bank accounts of his and his brother, Hemant Kumar. The latter was found to have no links to the espionage case otherwise. Out of this sum, he had paid approximately Rs 9,000 in total to Chiman Lal for his assistance in lots of Rs 1000- Rs 2000 since their first meet.