NIA arrests another in connection with the Visakhapatnam espionage case

NIA officials conduct raids at two locations in Mumbai and another at Hojai in Assam

Published - November 20, 2023 09:28 pm IST - VISAKHAPATNAM

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Monday arrested one more accused in the Visakhapatnam espionage case involving leakage of classified defence information through a Pakistani ISI spying network.

Amaan Salim Shaikh was arrested from Mumbai following raids conducted by the NIA on November 20 at two locations in Mumbai (Maharashtra) and another at Hojai, Nagaon district, Assam. With his arrest, the total number of accused arrested in the case so far stands at three. A total of four persons, including two absconding Pakistani operatives, have already been charge-sheeted by the NIA in the case (RC-02/2023/NIA/HYD).

Amaan was found involved in the activation of the SIM cards that were being used by the Pakistani Intelligence Officers involved in the racket, which first came to light in 2021, when the Counter Intelligence Cell, Andhra Pradesh, registered the case as FIR 01/2021 dated January 12, 2021, under Sections 120 B & 121A of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 17 & 18 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 and Section 3 of Official Secrets Act, 1923. The NIA took over the case in June 2023.

NIA teams on Monday also seized two mobile phones from the location from which Amaan was arrested. Two more mobile phones and a host of sensitive documents were seized from other locations raided by the NIA.

One July 19, 2023, the NIA had filed a Chargesheet against two accused, including an absconding Pakistani national Meer Balaj Khan. Investigations had revealed that Meer Balaj Khan, along with an arrested accused, identified as Akash Solanki, were part of an espionage module who were procuring and leaking sensitive vital information pertaining to the Indian Navy to Pakistan based handlers.

On November 6, 2023, the NIA had filed a supplementary chargesheet against two other accused persons, identified as Manmohan Surendra Panda and Alven. While Panda is under arrest, Alven, a Pakistani Intelligence Operative, is absconding, as he is based in Pakistan.

Investigations are continuing in the case and custodial interrogation of Amaan is expected to yield more leads in the conspiracy relating to attempts by foreign based elements to obtain sensitive and classified information relating to defence establishments across the country.

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