The National Investigation Agency (NIA) conducted searches at three places in Uttar Pradesh connected to a youth who allegedly passed on vital and sensitive information about Indian Army to his ISI handlers in Pakistan.
In January this year, Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) along with Military Intelligence (MI) arrested Mohammad Rashid, 23, a resident of Chandoli in Varanasi, for allegedly was spying for the ISI since March 2019.
After the central government received information about the case from the Uttar Pradesh government, the Home Ministry in April this year, handed over the case to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) given the gravity of the charges.
Official sources said, on Sunday, NIA conducted searches at his residence in Mughal Sarai, Chandoli and Varanasi. During these searches, a mobile phone and some incriminating documents recovered were seized.
Rashid was booked in January this year under Section 123 (concealing with intent to facilitate design to wage war) of Indian Penal Code (IPC) after the MI received inputs about him in July 2019. They spent several months observing him through discreet surveillance.
Official sources said he used to live with his maternal grandfather and uncle in Varanasi district since his parents were divorced and had remarried. He studied up to Class 8, following which he worked at a tailoring unit and a medicine store in Varanasi. Later he started fixing flex signboards for a living.
He has relatives in Karachi and had visited them twice in 2017 and 2018-19 to attend some marriage functions.
In Karachi, he stayed with his aunt Hasina, her husband Shagir Ahmed and their son Shajeb in Orangi Town. During his second visit, Shajeb introduced him to two ISI/Pakistani military intelligence personnel, who identied themselves as Ashim and Amad.
The two engaged with Rashid and tasked him to provide Indian phone numbers for their use on WhatsApp and photos/videos/information on the movement and deployment of Army units.
He was also tasked to send similar information on sensitive places and protests and rallies in India.
They promised him money and assured to help him marry his cousin in Karachi. Rashid agreed to work for them and continued to remain in frequent communication with his handlers.
According to sources, after he returned to India, Rashid provided a One Time Password (OTP) of two Indian mobile numbers to Ashim and Amad, enabling them to create two WhatsApp accounts on Indian numbers. These WhatsApp accounts were later used by the Pakistani agencies to trap Indian defence personnel.
Apart from facilitating his Pakistani handlers in getting Indian WhatsApp numbers, he also shared photos and videos of several places having bearing on security, sources said.
The list includes Kashi Vishwanath temple — Air Force Selection Board, Gyanvapi Mosque, Sankat Mochan temple, Cantt railway station, Dashashwamedh Ghat in Varanasi, Agra Fort, Naini Bridge and Ardh Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj, CRPF camps in Chandauli and Amethi, Gorakhpur railway station, Renukoot Thermal Power Plant in Sonbhadra, India Gate in Delhi, Ajmeri Sharif in Rajasthan, Nagpur railway station in Maharashtra and others.
Sources said, he received a gift packet containing a T-shirt in Pakistan’s national colours (green and white) in May 2019 and a payment of Rs 5,000 in July 2019 from Pakistani intelligence operatives Ashim and Amad.
Apart from the two men, he had also spoken to their boss once in October-November 2019, who asked him to acquire a shop near an Army installation in Jodhpur to monitor Army movements. He was assured a sum of Rs 1,00,000 and monthly rental of Rs 10,000-15,000 for the job, sources said.