Ishwar Behera walked right into the trap. A photographer working at the Integrated Test Range Area in Chandipur, Odisha, he is alleged to have passed on sensitive information to a Kolkata based ISI spy all for Rs 50000.
A classic game of intelligence, the ISI has managed to lure in several such persons across the country by adopting various tactics which range from money, blackmail to honey traps. Not so long ago a junior officer in the army was arrested by the Hyderabad police for allegedly passing on information to a lady who was later found to be a spy for the ISI.
The case of Behera is no different and the ISI managed to rope in the weakest link in exchange for vital information from a sensitive and restricted area in Chandipur.
Who is Behera?
Ishwar Behera is a resident of the Kantipur village near Baisinga in Mayurbhanj district. He was appointed at the ITR as a camera person on a temporary basis since 2007. There has been no history of crime against him prior to this incident.
According to the investigation, he was tapped by an agent of the ISI 10 months back. He was told to pass on information and also photographs of the sensitive area on a regular basis. He was assured money in return for information.
There have been four transactions into his account amounting to Rs 50000. The money came in from Meerut, Abu Dhabhi, Hyderabad and Bihar. It is alleged that he had sent pictures of sensitive locations to his agent in Kolkata.
Further it is also alleged that he had made several trips to Kolkata. Each time he went to Kolkata he informed his superiors that he had to get his camera repaired.
Any information is vital
We have very often seen in such cases, agencies stating that vital information has not been shared. However the ISI is well aware when it traps the small fish, they get access to ordinary information only.
Although the information passed on by Behera may have been simple in nature, it still helps the ISI build on it and get to the bigger fish and as a result, the more vital information. The ISI has adopted this tactic several times in the past.
In the case of Behera the type of information that has been passed is being verified and his mobile, laptop and two cell phones apart from his bank accounts are still under the scanner. Vital leads to the case will spill out of this informed Asit Panigrahi, Inspector General (Eastern Range).
The Faridkot trap wing
The ISI houses an exclusive wing in Faridkot, Pakistan specifically meant to train officers who will lay traps in India. The strength of this wing is currently estimated to be at 800. While a majority of them are being trained to set traps in India, there are many who are sent to other countries as well.
A document prepared by the Research and Analysis Wing in possession of Oneindia details the Faridkot programme. The document states that money and seduction are the key to such operations. It also states that there are 20 dedicated officers who specialize in training the cadres.
The document further states that the centre was moved to Faridkot only recently. Earlier the ISI had set up this wing in Dhaka in Bangladesh and worked alongside the DGFI to set traps in India. However after the relations between India and Bangladesh improved considerably the centre was moved to Faridkot.
The interrogation of Asif Ali
Asif Ali was a Meerut based operative of the ISI. He was linked to the Naib Subedar Pathan case. Pathan was working at an army unit in Hyderabad as a junior officer and was accused of passing on information to the ISI.
Asif Ali who handled Pathan, claims before the police that he was threatened to take up the assignment. I am married to a Pakistani woman and used to visit that country very often. I was trailed by the agents of the ISI who one day got hold of me and threatened to kill my wife and children, he said.
I was told that I had to reach the money to Pathan and the rest of the operation would be taken care of by the other agents. Each time I went to Paksitan I would be given money which was to be passed on to junior officers, Ali also claimed.
Depositing the money
The manner in which Behera was handed out the money is very similar to what Ali had narrated to the police. Ali had said that the money is never handed out in person. We prefer bringing in the money and then transferring to the accounts through an Indian bank. The money is never deposited in one shot. It is done over several transactions in various names.
India's history with ISI traps
A naval officer Sukhjindger Singh was accused of leaking information to a Russian woman in the year 2005. The case of RaW officer Ravi Nair is also an interesting one. He was first recalled from Hong Kong for allegedly leaking information to a Chinese woman. He was then posted in Colombo where once again allegations of him leaking secrets to a woman cropped up.
Rabinder Singh alleged to be CIA agent was working with RaW. It is alleged that he got and passed on very sensitive information. Once his lid was blown off, he managed to escape through the American agency who provided him a safe route through Nepal.
Unnikrishnan an officer with RaW was rounded up after it was found that he was leaking information to an air hostess in Sri Lanka believed to be a spy for the LTTE.