By Sumit Kumar Singh
New Delhi, Dec 20 (IANS) The arrest of seven naval officials from Mumbai, Karwar (Karnataka) and Visakhapatnam on Friday for leaking sensitive information about the movements of warships and submarines to Pakistani agents has exposed lapses in the security apparatus placed around critical assets in India.
According to intelligence agencies, which busted the espionage racket being run by Pakistan, three sailors were arrested from Visakhapatnam, two from Karwar and two from Mumbai.
The agencies stated that both the Eastern and Western naval command centres, responsible for the security of maritime borders, were exposed to the Pakistani agents.
Intelligence agencies busted the espionage racket linked to Pakistan with the arrest of seven Indian Navy personnel and a hawala operator.
“Some more suspects are being questioned,” the agencies said.
The agencies pointed out that Visakhapatnam, the headquarters of the Eastern Command of the Indian Navy and also the base of nuclear submarine Arihant, was exposed to the espionage racket. They also stated that the Eastern Command looks upon suspicious Chinese ship movements in Indian waters.
The Western naval command in Mumbai was also exposed along with Karwar, the naval centre which has the force’s lone aircraft carrier Vikramaditya.
Indian Navy, however, maintained that their critical assets were intact and that there was no breach.
About the arrests, the force said: “In a joint operation with naval intelligence and Central intelligence agencies, the Andhra Pradesh Police arrested some junior naval personnel. The case is under investigation by Andhra Pradesh Police.”
Meanwhile, the intelligence wing of Andhra Pradesh police also said that they have busted the racket under an operation named ‘Dolphin’s Nose’ in association with the central intelligence agencies and naval intelligence.
The accused were produced before the National Investigation Agency court in Vijayawada on Friday. They were remanded to judicial custody till January 3. Further details are awaited.
The police said that all the arrested officials were in touch with Pakistani women who had befriended them on Facebook.
It is alleged that officials were paid through a hawala operator for providing information. The chats between these sailors who were being used by Pakistani agents were sexually explicit.
Sources said the honey trap with women posing as their friends on Facebook was set up by Pakistani intelligence operatives. The sailors were later blackmailed and forced to provide information.
“We are probing the matter and more people could be arrested,” the probe agencies said.