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Debt, lure of easy money: Why Indian diplomat’s cook spied for Pakistani agents

Ramesh Singh Kanyal was arrested from Didihat by anti-terrorism squad agents on Wednesday. He was charged with sharing crucial information with the Pakistani intelligence agency during his stay in the neighbouring country from 2015 to 2017.

india Updated: May 25, 2018 10:44 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Debt,Lure of easy money,Cook
Ramesh Singh Kanyal, a former cook booked under espionage charges, was allegedly paid by the ISI in US dollar bills. (Reuters File)

Mounting debt and the lure of easy money allegedly induced 43-year-old Ramesh Singh Kanyal to help Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) bug the residence of an Indian diplomat in Islamabad over a period of two years.

Kanyal, a resident of Kirola village in Pithoragarh district, was arrested from Uttarakhand’s Didihat by anti-terrorism squad (ATS) agents on Wednesday. He was charged with sharing crucial information with the Pakistani intelligence agency during his stint as the diplomat’s cook in the neighbouring country from 2015 to 2017.

Uttar Pradesh additional director general (law and order) Anand Kumar said the ISI offered to pay the cook for bugging various places in the diplomat’s house, besides his laptop and other electronic equipment. Kanyal needed the money to repay a debt of Rs 9 lakh he had accrued before taking up the job at the diplomat’s residence.

He managed to clear the debt in the two years spent in Pakistan.

“When questioned, Kanyal confessed that ISI agents paid him in US dollars for helping them gain access to crucial information,” said Kumar, adding that the accused will be further interrogated after the anti-terrorism squad brings him to Lucknow from Pithoragarh.

The authorities are also scrutinising the bank accounts belonging to Kanyal as well as those close to him to ascertain the exact sum paid to him by ISI agents.

Inspector general (ATS) Asim Arun said the team zeroed in on Kanyal while trying to figure out the ISI network in India after Pakistani agent Aftab Ali’s arrest in Faizabad on May 5, 2017. According to Arun, initial findings suggested that Kanyal was in touch with the ISI even after returning to India in September 2017. “The ATS team recovered four SIM cards as well as a mobile phone of Pakistani make from Kanyal. We believe the handset has been bugged by the ISI, and have sent it for forensic examination,” the ATS officer said.

Arun said Kanyal allegedly approached the Indian diplomat for a job through his brother, who is in the Indian army. The ATS will produce him before a Lucknow court on Friday to seek his custody.

First Published: May 25, 2018 10:34 IST