By Sanjeev Pal
The Uttar Pradesh Police have nabbed three alleged ISI agents who operated six hi-tech illegal telephone exchanges at a Delhi 'FIIT JEE' coaching centre through which they used to coordinate with their handlers in Pakistan to plan possible attacks in India. They also made calls to military officials in Jammu and Kashmir posing as their seniors in order to get defence secrets from them.
The Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) of Uttar Pradesh Police arrested the accused last week after a tip-off about at least six telephone exchanges being run in Delhi, which were in operation since last year.
The accused were identified as Gulshan Sen of Mehrauli in Delhi and Shyam Babu and Shivendra Mishra of Sitapur in Lucknow.
ATS head Assem Arun told IANS that the accused used to run the telephone exchanges at a 'FIIT JEE' centre in Punjabi Bagh, which they used as a front for their activities. Sen ostensibly worked as a technical head of the coaching centre.
The telephone exchanges were set up in different rooms of the institute. They would mask the VPN (Virtual Private Network) server locations, so that their calls to Pakistan and other places to connect with handlers were not traced.
ATS head Arun had come to Delhi with his team to conduct raids at suspected locations to nab them.
"The ISI agents spied on India's military operations. Sen and his associates were providing a safe illegal platform to five other ISI spies through a fake telephone exchange which they used to make calls to military officers in Jammu and Kashmir posing as their seniors to gather secret inputs of their army base camps," Arun told IANS.
"Sen connected with ISI operators sitting in Pakistan and other overseas countries such as Bangladesh, Canada, Nepal, Afghanistan, Kuwait and some Gulf countries through the telephone exchange," he said.
Sen had earlier spent five years in Afghanistan, where he had worked for a US company engaged in supplying materials to customers through contractors. He was carrying out "undesirable activities" in Afghanistan also, Arun said.
Sen is being interrogated by the ATS and central intelligence agencies.
On Wednesday police conducted fresh raids in the Punjabi Bagh institute and recovered six SIM boxes where a total of 78 SIM cards were installed in the telephone exchange, the police officer said.
Police are on the lookout for the absconding five other ISI accomplices.
"They used to obtain the army base camp maps, secret inputs of defence and other internal functions, troop deployment and operations. Some officers of military may have been involved with them. This angle is being investigated," Arun said.
Sen, an expert in cyber technologies, is alleged to have strong connections with intelligence agencies of other countries, including Kuwait and Afghanistan.
"The police are trying to ascertain how many calls were made from this fake telephone exchange. They were trying to plan attacks on army base camps in border areas for which they were collecting secret information," he said.
(Sanjeev Pal can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)