VISHAKHAPATNAM/VIJAYAWADA: Seven Indian Navy sailors and a Mumbai-based hawala operator were arrested on Friday by Andhra Pradesh police on charges of spying for Pakistan through women who lured them into online relationships.
The eight, arrested from different parts of the country, were produced before a National Investigation Agency (NIA) Court in Vijayawada which ordered them to be remanded in judicial custody till January 3. They were charged the Official Secrets Act, 1923.
The countrywide espionage probe, code-named Operation Dolphin Nose, was carried out in coordination with central security agencies and the Indian Naval Intelligence.
Investigators said that since mid-2018 the seven sailors, posted at Visakhapatnam, Mumbai, and Karwar bases had been leaking sensitive information on the positions of Indian ships and submarines to an ISI handler.
The AP police counter-intelligence team said the hawala operator might have clues to a bigger racket and a thorough probe was required. “The Andhra Pradesh Intelligence department launched an operation in association with central intelligence agencies and the naval intelligence and has busted an espionage racket having links to Pakistan,” the police statement said.
“The seven personnel of the Navy and a hawala operator have been arrested from different parts of the country. Some more suspects are being questioned. The investigation is on,” the statement added.
A senior police officer said the sailors were recruited in early 2017 and a year later, they were contacted by “three to four women”, who lured them into online relationships. The women introduced them to a businessman, the ISI handler.
The ISI handler from Pakistan began gathering sensitive information, including the exact location of Indian submarines and navy ships, the official said. “The sailors were receiving money handsomely from the hawala operator for their services,” the official told TOI. The police are yet to nab the handler and the women involved in the honey trap.
While the hawala operator is from Mumbai, the sailors are from Maharashtra, Jodhpur and Alwar in Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Odisha.
Source: Economic Times