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Madhya Pradesh hub for Pak spies

The state has become a safe haven for criminals and terrorists due to lack of coordination among the police forces.

india Updated: Jul 14, 2006 11:05 IST

Abdul Sami was a Pakistani criminal trained in Karachi. He sneaked into India and lived in Madhya Pradesh like a local and spying on military establishments. Authorities say Madhya Pradesh is a haven for Pakistani spies.

Security and intelligence agencies have arrested more than one such Pakistani in Madhya Pradesh, and they say there is very much a pattern.

"Yes, Madhya Pradesh has become a safe haven for notorious criminals and terrorists due to lack of coordination among the police forces of different states," a Special Branch police officer said.

Abdul Sami was living in the Gandhi Nagar area of Bhopal when he was arrested. He had a driving licence, a ration card, a job as data entry operator at a foreign bank and his name was enrolled as an Indian voter - all that is needed to prove one's nationality.

But he proved to be a Pakistani national, spying for the notorious Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

Security officers say Sami's arrest underlines the deep penetration role played by Pakistani moles in India. It shows how easy it is to obtain Indian official documents -- for a price.

"ISI zeroed in on Sami, wanted for murder in Pakistan, promising to settle him in India if he agreed to do its bidding. It was an offer Abdul couldn't resist," a senior officer said. "Trained from May 2003 at a Karachi safe house, Sami was launched in India through Dhaka."

Within days Abdul settled down. He found an elderly man, Abdul Salam, and for a handsome amount convinced him to adopt him as his son. Within a month he had the ration card and driving licence, issued by the regional transport office here.

"ISI gave me computer lessons besides teaching me the tricks of the trade," Sami told his interrogators.

Sami was to get married to a local girl May 25 but was arrested three days earlier while sending secret information about the Indian Army to Pakistan via e-mail from an Internet cafe.

"Sami is not an exception," an intelligence official said.

Three days after he was arrested, police in Jabalpur town caught another Pakistani, Ejad-ul-Hassan alias Imran. He too was a Pakistan spy launched from Bangladesh.

The police and the military intelligence raided a photocopy centre in the cantonment area in Jabalpur and recovered several classified documents and maps, related to army training and an ordnance factory.

Nearly 20 "secret books" were also seized.

Fareed Ahmad, arrested in April 2002, was an assistant research officer at an atomic research institute in Islamabad and had lived in Bhopal for five years. He came to Bhopal in 1991 on a 90-day visa and then on a 45-day visa six years later but stayed on.

During his illegal stay, Fareed, then 46, worked as a Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) office secretary and took part in its national convention in Delhi. He was also from Karachi.

The police had another shock when it came to know of a retired soldier of Katni district in Madhya Pradesh who recruited spies to work for ISI.

This ex-soldier confessed having visited Dhaka several times, with help from one Abdul Qasim, to obtain special training in spying.

Four others, including two each from Katni and Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, were then arrested. Qasim, who operated under the code name `Aman', was posted at the Pakistani embassy in Dhaka.

Another ISI agent, Aquib, who was arrested in New Delhi, had also stayed in Bhopal and Indore on several occasions.

"I was given the task of making contacts in this region besides establishing a headquarters as well," Aquib told Indian officials.

Aquib lived for several months at Shamla Hills, an area where the Madhya Pradesh chief minister resides.

"There are remote chances of a Mumbai like carnage in Madhya Pradesh because here they (spies and terrorists) get shelter," an Intelligence Bureau officer said. "The state has become an abode of such people, known as sleeper cells."

Police sources complain about lack of coordination among the police forces of different states.

"Information about criminals and terrorists are not shared promptly by other states," the Special Branch officer said, adding this had been brought to the notice of the director general of police.