The city police arrested two hawala operators Javed Naviwala, 31, and Altaf Qureshi, 33, a day after the Uttar Pradesh anti-terrorism squad (ATS) smashed an espionage racket by arresting alleged Pakistan’s ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) agent Aftab Ali from Faizabad on Wednesday.
Naviwala and Qureshi were booked under official secrets Act for spying, communicating with foreign agent and using codes or passwords while sharing information. Both the accused were produced in court on Thursday and remanded police custody till May 7.
A source from ATS said that Javed completed his graduation from Sydenham College a few years ago and got into the hawala business in 2009. He is a resident of Agripada area in south Mumbai. The source added that Naviwala and Qureshi came from Dhoraji Wala village in Rajkot, Gujarat. Ureshi used to work for Naviwala, the source said.
During interrogation, Naviwala said that several of his relatives and villagers live in Karachi, Pakistan and he used to do business with them. He added that he got a call from Pakistan saying ‘Dava-paani ke liye paise bhej do (send some pocket money)’ to the alleged ISI agent Ali. Accordingly, Qureshi transferred Rs15,000 to Ali’s account, said the ATS official. The police recovered accused’s mobile phone, a diary and Rs71 lakh in cash from their residence. They have been checking the accused’s call records to find out more about their contacts in Pakistan, added the official.
The Uttar Pradesh ATS swung into action after intelligence inputs warned of a possible terror attack in state by ISI men. In a joint operation conducted by the ATS, central and state intelligence agencies, Ali was picked up from Faizabad. He has been to Pakistan and the police believe that the ISI trained him there.
During investigation, the ATS checked Ali’s bank account and found that the fund was transferred by one Altaf Qureshi from Mumbai. Soon an ATS team came to Mumbai and along with the Mumbai police, they nabbed Qureshi from his residence in Pydhonie. Naviwala was arrested after said that he works with Naviwala and the money was transferred on his orders.