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‘Ex-armyman spied on scientists in Pokhran nuclear test range’

The former army havildar, who was arrested on Sunday on charges of espionage, was tasked with spying on scientists in Pokhran area, according to the state ATS.

jaipur Updated: Dec 29, 2015 14:36 IST
Rashpal Singh
Rashpal Singh
Hindustan Times
ATS,Pokhran nuclear test range,Rajasthan

The former army havildar, who was arrested on Sunday on charges of espionage, was tasked with spying on scientists in Pokhran area, according to the state ATS.

Govardhan Singh, the 58-year-old accused was in touch with his handlers on the other side of the border through Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and received money in his bank accounts through Hawala transactions, revealed Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) investigators.

On December 11, an official of the state-run Indian Oil Corporation named Mohammed Sirajuddin was arrested in Jaipur for allegedly using social network platforms to recruit youngsters for the Islamic State.

Rajasthan ATS put Singh under surveillance after receiving a tip-off from its counterpart in Uttar Pradesh about anti-national activities.

After confirming communication through VoIP on numbers possessed by Singh and his bank transactions, ATS sleuths detained him and later arrested him on Sunday.

After retiring from the army, the accused was serving as patwari (revenue officer) at Khetolai, an area which is five kilometres away from the nuclear test range and is also used for annual war exercises.

“He was tasked with keeping an eye on movement of scientists in and around the nuclear test range. He used to interact with handlers over VoIP and often faxed some documents to his contacts in UP, who forwarded it to intelligence agencies in Pakistan,” said an ATS investigator wishing anonymity.

The officer said Singh came on radar of ATS, Uttar Pradesh, who were tracking some espionage suspects. “Singh came in contact with Pakistan handlers through some of his former colleagues in the army who are also involved in spying,” said the investigator.

The accused procured many mobile numbers on names of his family members and relatives and used the same for communication with his handlers in Pakistan.

Singh was on Monday handed over to the state intelligence wing for further interrogation. He has been booked under the Official Secrets Act, 1923.

Additional Director General of police, intelligence, UR Sahu said Singh was brought to Jaipur on Monday late evening and would be produced before a magistrate for police remand.

The investigators are now matching the consistency between VoIP calls and bank transactions of the accused.

Labourer held for clicking pictures of war exercise stage

The Indian Air Force (IAF) authorities on Monday picked up one Birbal Khan, 22, while he was clicking pictures of a stage being prepared for force’s war exercise Iron Fist to be held next year in Pokhran range.

Khan, who worked as labourer in construction work at the site, was later handed over to the local police, said Lathi police station in-charge Amar Singh.

He said Khan has been sent to Jaisalmer for a joint interrogation by intelligence and defence forces but no case has been filed against him.

Read: Ex-armyman detained on suspicion of spying for Pak

First Published: Dec 29, 2015 14:36 IST