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Tuesday, Oct 22, 2019

Pak tried to frame Indian engineer in terror plot to embarrass Modi; foiled

Supported by China, this listing was a desperate attempt by Islamabad to link India and terror, and also embarrass India at a time when the country’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on a high-profile visit to the US, where he will also speak at the UN General Assembly.

india Updated: Sep 27, 2019 11:09 IST
Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
New Delhi
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum, Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019, in New York.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum, Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019, in New York. (AP file photo)
         

Venumadhav Dongara may have become the next Kulbhushan Jadhav, but for some quick thinking, and equally fast moves by Indian security agencies to extract him from Afghanistan on September 7.

The endgame of the plot involving Dongara, orchestrated by Pakistan’s spy agency Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), was to have the employee of a private sector company rebuilding infrastructure in war-ravaged Afghanistan listed by the United Nations Security Council’s 1267 Sanctions Committee this month, say officials in Indian security and intelligence agencies.

Supported by China, this listing was a desperate attempt by Islamabad to link India and terror, and also embarrass India at a time when the country’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on a high-profile visit to the US, where he will also speak at the UN General Assembly.

The plot, which was hatched in March, seeks to link the Indian engineer, who works for KEC International, a subsidiary of the RPG Group that has been in the business of building transmission infrastructure around the world for years, to a terror group that is believed to be responsible for attacking Peshawar airbase in 2015, killing 29 people.

According to the officials, who asked not to be named, the reason for the listing by the 1267 Committee (set up after the 9/11 attacks in the US and which designates global terrorists) was cited as “participation in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing, or perpetrating of acts or activities….in support of supplying, selling or transferring arms and related material to ISIL or Al Qaeda.”

Interestingly, Indian diplomats based in New York had no idea about the 1267 Sanctions Committee being moved as India is not a member of it.

While Dongara is now back in India, six employees of KEC are being held hostage by the Taliban.

Had Dongara not been extracted, it is possible that he may have been abducted by ISI from Afghanistan, in much the same way Indian naval officer-turned-businessman Kulbushan Jadhav was from Iran. Islamabad claimed in 2017 that he was arrested from Balochistan and accused him of terrorism and spying for Indian spy agency Research & Analysis Wing. He was sentenced to death by a court in Pakistan but the International Court of Justice stayed the execution. In July, it asked Pakistan to review his trial and conviction and to also provide consular access to India.

Dongara comes from a modest agricultural background but completed his M.Tech in power systems after excelling in academics. His first project, a 500 KV substation, Dasht-e-Alwan, in Afghanistan’s Baghlan province, was completed in January 2019 while he was working on the Doshi-Bamiyan transmission line as a project manager.

According to the Indian officials, ISI prepared a dossier on fictitious terror activities of Dongara including FIRs, photos, and other fake evidence. He was portrayed as a financier and weapon suppliers of several anti-Pakistan groups including Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, Tariq Gidar Group, TTP, ISIL and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.

As part of its efforts to fabricate a case against Dongara, Pakistan filed an FIR no 81, Dated March 11, under Sections 302, 324, 353, 148, 149, 120B-3/4/5 Exp-15AA 7ATA-21 (i)-11 (N) ATD, CTD, in Peshawar and slapped him with charges of supplying weapons/explosives to the UN-proscribed Tariq Gidar Group, which is a splinter group of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Pakistan, as per a UN listing, holds this group responsible for the Peshawar Army School massacre in which 132 innocent children were killed. The TGG is also believed to be responsible for the attack on a Pakistan Air Force base at Badaber in Peshawar on September 18, 2015, in which 29 security personnel were killed.

Dongara moved to Afghanistan for work only in December 2016. He was employed in Chennai at the time he is supposed to have been financing and supplying arms to these groups, the people cited above said.

First Published: Sep 27, 2019 01:58 IST

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