The National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Punjab Police are now “revisiting” a 2014 case where an Indian Air Force (IAF) employee posted at the Pathankot air force station was arrested on charges of passing on vital information pertaining to the strategic facility to a woman from Pakistan who had honey-trapped him.
The case was registered against Sunil Bhaati, 26, a resident of Jodhpur, on August 30, 2014. Subsequently, Bhaati was dismissed by the IAF.
The Pathankot police, however, have failed to file a challan in a local court against Bhaati, who managed to get bail from the court in January last year.
The FIR against Bhaati, (a copy of which is with HT) states that he had been enrolled into the IAF in 2008 and was posted at Pathankot in 2010. He was allegedly honey-trapped by a woman who had registered herself on a social networking site Orkut as Meena Raina.
Bhaati was posted in Vadodara at that time. The woman befriended him and started gathering information about his work. Later, when Bhaati moved to Pathankot, he allegedly started giving information to her through Facebook.
The FIR adds that the woman started transferring money to him in his various bank accounts for the information he was sharing. She asked him about the number of persons posted in the station, their ranks, location of aircrafts etc. From 2010 to 2013, around Rs 3 lakh, including foreign currency, were transferred in his accounts.
A cyber squad of the airbase put him under surveillance and discovered his emails sent to the woman. After issuing him a show-cause notice on August 14. 2014, Bhaati was dismissed from service on August 27, 2014. An FIR was registered against him three days later.
The police probe into the case is going on at a sluggish pace. “Since the case was registered under various sections of the Official Secrets Act and the Unlawful Activities Act, permission to file a challan in the court was to be taken from the Union home ministry. We got that permission but another approval was needed from the state home department for which we sent the file to the home department in October 2015. We haven’t received any reply from them, since then,” says investigating officer in the case Harpreet Singh.
“Despite the delay in filing the challan, the government did not file a request for extension in time period for filing the challan. As a result, Bhaati was bailed out in January 2015 by default,” says Ajay Dadwal, Bhaati’s counsel. The government filed an appeal against the bail order but it was rejected by the district and sessions judge Pathankot in July 2015.
“Two days ago, Punjab policemen had come to us to gather information about Bhaati’s whereabouts and know who furnished his bail bonds. We told police that one of his uncle’s was working at the Chandigarh air force station,” adds Dadwal.