The Madhya Pradesh anti-terrorism squad (ATS) is looking at the possibility of two arrested "ISI spies" of being involved in smuggling of black scorpion which is in high demand in Pakistan, highly-placed sources said on Monday.
Shiv Narayan Chandravanshi, 43, and Arjun Malviya 35 – both hailing from separate villages in the state — were arrested from Ferozepur district in Punjab on Saturday and charged with spying for the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).
Punjab police had also recovered Rs 12,000 in cash and 45 black scorpions from them.
Pakistan has emerged as a hub of smuggling for black scorpions, used in research for anti-cancer drugs by western pharmaceutical companies.
A senior ATS official not authorised to speak to the media said the probe was still on to establish "their ISI links". An ATS team was already in Ferozepur to assist the Punjab police investigators.
"We have got inputs that they were in touch with a woman of Pakistan and used to communicate with her on social media and also through phone in the past six months. They had talked with the woman more than 15 times the day they were caught," said the ATS officer.
ATS sources also said that an amount of Rs 12,000 was transferred to Shiv Narayan’s account from Pakistan recently.
Punjab police have said that the two were allegedly sending photographs and "important information" to an ISI agent identified as Dr Jaya Mishra.
According to the sources, both Shiv and Arjun used to tell their friends in their respective villages -- Khokariya in Bhopal district and Kolansh Kala in Sehore district -- that they purchase black scorpions and sell them outside the country.
The two villages are barely five km apart and the two are said to have met around five years ago.
A joint team of ATS and Bhopal district police carried out raids at the houses of the accused and recovered a computer, photographs and three mobile phones from Shiv Narayan’s house.
However, nothing was found on the computer, sources said.
Shiv Narayan’s wife Bhuri Bai, however, said that her husband was innocent.
"I was shocked to hear that my husband was caught on charge of spying for Pakistan. But I believe, he is innocent and is being implicated," she added.
People of both villages, however, admitted that Shiv Narayan and Arjun used to spend more time outside their villages.
On October 30, Arjun and Shiv Narayan had left their respective houses in a car, informing the family members that they were going to Delhi.