Operation Dolphin Nose: NIA arrests 53-year-old bizman for leaking vital Navy information
Earlier, apart Qaiser, NIA had arrested key conspirator Mohammed Haroon Haji Abdul Rehman Lakdawala from south Mumbai on May 15.Updated: Jun 07, 2020 02:31 IST
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Friday arrested a 53-year-old Abdul Rehman Abdul Jabbar Sheikh, a Mumbai resident, who is believed to be a conspirator in the Visakhapatnam espionage case. Sheikh’s wife Shaista Qaiser, who was born in Pakistan, was earlier arrested in connection with the same case for terror funding as part of the operation code-named ‘Dolphin Nose’.
Sheikh, a resident of Agripada in south Mumbai, is a businessman and runs a firm named ‘SR Enterprises’ which exports groundnut to Afghanistan. Sheikh used his wife’s phone to share crucial information regarding positioning of Indian Navy ships and submarines at its critical bases. NIA conducted a search at Sheikh’s residence on Saturday and seized digital devices and incriminating documents from his house, said an NIA official.
Earlier, apart Qaiser, NIA had arrested key conspirator Mohammed Haroon Haji Abdul Rehman Lakdawala from south Mumbai on May 15. During searches at Lakdawala’s house, several digital devices and incriminating documents had also been seized by NIA.
Sheikh is the fifteenth arrest made in operation ‘Dolphin Nose’ wherein the espionage racket was busted by the Special Intelligence Branch of the Andhra Pradesh Police along with Naval Intelligence and the Intelligence Bureau. The case was later transferred to NIA.
“Lakdawala had travelled to Karachi under the guise of conducting cross-border trade and used to meet Pakistani spies, possible code-named Akbar alias Ali and Rizwan,” said an NIA official.
The first arrests were made on December 20 when the agencies arrested seven Indian Navy personnel from Visakhapatnam, Mumbai and Karwar bases along with one hawala operator. Later in February, three more navy personnel were arrested in the case along with Pakistan-born Indian national Shaista Qaiser.
Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agents had honey-trapped the Indian sailors through Facebook, WhatsApp and online dating sites, and were allegedly paid through Indian conduits for getting crucial information regarding positioning of Indian Navy ships and submarines at its critical bases, said sources in the intelligence agencies.
After the sailors fell for the ‘women’ on the dating sites, which were profiles created by ISI, the ‘women’ would introduce them to a businessman, a Pakistani handler, who elicited information the sailors, said NIA officials. If the sailor refused to reveal certain information, the ‘women’ would then blackmail them by threatening to reveal their online chats which were sexual in nature, and extract information about positions and movements of our vessels, added NIA officials.
The espionage racket started in 2018, and the sailors were paid through a hawala operator who has been arrested. Lakdawala was directly involved in depositing money into the bank accounts of the Navy personnel at regular intervals through different methods,” said an official, requesting anonymity.