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IAF personnel lured to spy for Pakistan’s ISI, sacked, arrested

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New Delhi: An Indian Air Force (IAF) personnel, who was lured into spying for Pakistan’s spy agency ISI while chatting with a woman on Facebook, was dismissed from service and was arrested from an air base in Punjab, a police official said on Tuesday.

“We have arrested an IAF personnel from Punjab on charges of spying for ISI,” Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch) Ravindra Yadav said here.

Ranjith K.K., hailing from Kerala, was arrested from Punjab at the Bathinda airbase as he was spying for Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), police said.

An IAF official said Ranjith, who was a Leading Aircraftman with the Indian Air Force, was dismissed on Monday evening after evidence was found against him for sharing sensitive information with others.

“It was a long drawn case. After an internal administrative inquiry, we dismissed Ranjith around 5.30 p.m. on Monday,” the IAF official, on condition of anonymity, told IANS.

Joint Commissioner Ravindra Yadav said Delhi Police Crime Branch officials, who have already been probing the ISI espionage racket since the arrest of some people earlier this month, had shared information with the IAF about Ranjith’s suspected links with the ISI.

“Ranjith was later detained by the IAF and handed over to us. We arrested him on Monday and brought him to Delhi on transit remand,” Yadav said.

He said the modus operandi was basically a “honey trap”.

The official said Ranjith was trapped in the spy ring through an unidentified woman with whom he had begun to chat over Facebook, a social networking site. He was in touch with a person having a Facebook profile of “Damini McNaught”, who portrayed that she was an executive of a Britain-based magazine.

The woman said the magazine wanted some information about the Indian Air Force, and promised pecuniary benefits in exchange.

Yadav said Ranjith, who had joined the IAF in 2010, has admitted to having “passed air force related information pertaining to recent Indian Air Force exercises, movement of aircraft and deployment of various units in the IAF”.

He also said that in return, Ranjith had received monetary benefits in his bank account.

As per investigations, Ranjith was “befooled by cross-border spies and had received a few VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) calls on his mobile numbers in which the… female with British accent introduced herself as Damini McNaught”.

“She interviewed Ranjith and then assigned him the task of getting the information. She deceived him by saying that the information will be published,” said Yadav.

Ranjith is the sixth person to be arrested by Delhi Police for being part of an espionage racket backed by ISI.

Five other people, including a serving and a former army personnel and a serving BSF personnel, were arrested earlier this month. (IANS)

(Photo: The Hindu)

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Intelligence officials: ISI may have joined hands with JeM

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New Delhi: As per the intelligence sources, the Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency has reportedly conjoined hands with banned Islamic militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) to “reinvigorate” the latter’s base.

The tie-up is to carry out terrorist attacks across India, the sources said on condition of anonymity.

Over the last eight months, intelligence officials had intercepted several Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls of cross-border discussion between ISI agents and their contacts in terror modules in Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.

Sources said the Saturday fidayeen attack at the frontline Indian Air Force (IAF) base in Pathankot in northern Punjab could have been carried out by JeM militants who were being backed by ISI for several months.

“We are not very sure if the intercepted calls were to JeM militants, but the possibility is high,” the sources said.

“After LeT (Lashkar-e-Taiba) and SIMI (Students Islamic Movement of India), the ISI is now reported to be backing JeM for its revival in Kashmir and other Indian cities. ISI’s motive is to establish a large number of terror outfit modules of different militant groups in several parts of the country,” the official said.

Maulana Masood Azhar formed Jaish-e-Mohammed in March 2000, shortly after his release from prison in December 1999, in exchange for passengers of the hijacked Indian Airlines flight IC 814 was taken to Kandahar, in Afghanistan.

Sources said the group, in coordination with LeT, was implicated in the 2001 attack on Indian Parliament in New Delhi. In December 2002, four JeM members were caught by Indian authorities and put on trial. All four were found guilty. One of the accused, Afzal Guru, was sentenced to death for his role in the attack.

The group was formed after a split within Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), another militant group. A majority of HUM members joined JeM.

The attack, it was said, would be carried out to avenge the death of Abu Qasim, a senior commander of LeT who was killed in an encounter with security forces. Qasim had carried out an attack on a BSF convoy in August in Udhampur, Punjab.

Intelligence officials had told the agency that the alert was based on the busting of a pan-Indian ISI-backed spying ring unearthed by Delhi Police’s Crime Branch wing in November-December last year.

Six ISI moles including a serving leading aircraftsman (LAC) Ranjith KK, a library assistant Kafaitullah Khan, a Border Security Force (BSF) head constable Abdul Rasheed, a retired Indian Army havildar Munawwar Ahmad Mir, Rifleman Farid Khan of the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry and a government teacher Sabar were arrested during the Delhi Police operation.

Ranjith was sent for police remand while the other five alleged ISI moles are already in 14-day judicial custody.

Sources said that Ranjith is being questioned by the intelligence agencies and Delhi Police sleuths over the Pathankot terror attack. At least five terrorists were killed by commandos following the attack, police said.

Ranjith, who was sacked from the IAF after his link with ISI was established, was later arrested from Bathinda Air Force Station in Punjab on December 28.

He had allegedly shared information on some recent IAF exercises, movement of aircraft and deployment of various air force units with a woman, who spoke with a British accent, during a VoIP call that was intercepted by military intelligence and IAF’s liaisoning unit.

“Ranjith was fooled by a fictitious Facebook account in the name of Damini McNaught who pretended to work as an executive with a British magazine that wanted some Indian Air Force information for its next issue,” Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch) Ravindra Yadav had said earlier.

Intelligence officials are also in touch with the Kolkata special task force (STF), which has also arrested some alleged ISI operatives from the city since November 14. The task force had arrested Akhtar Khan, his brother Zafar Khan, Irshad Ansari, Asfaq Ansari and Mohammad Jahangir for providing secret information to ISI, the sources said.(IANS)

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