An undercover agent working for Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence(ISI) who was arrested from the Mamoon Army Cantonment at Pathankot on Monday night was allegedly promised Rs. 50,000 to capture pictures of buildings inside the campus, which had ‘distinguishable markings’ on them, a senior government official has claimed.
While the accused, Irshad Ahmad, was picked up from Pathankot Cantt, his handler — Sajjad, a resident of Jammu — was arrested a few days earlier. A third accused, Akram, also part of the spy ring, was arrested on Tuesday from Jammu.
The arrest is considered to be important as Pathankot is still said to be on the radar of terrorist outfits.
The Indian Air Force base in Pathankot was stormed by militants reportedly belonging to Pakistan-based terrorist outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad on the intervening night of January 1-2 that resulted in the death of seven security personnel.
Irshad took up the job of a casual labourer inside the Army Cantt on January 22 with the help of a labour contactor. He was assigned to lay cables and wires inside the Army campus. Sajjad was allegedly passing on pictures sent to him to an ISI official in Pakistan through e-mails and web-based application services.
“Irshad had already received Rs. 10,000 for the first cache of pictures he sent to his handler. He was to get the remaining amount on reaching Jammu,” said an official.
Officials recovered several photos of sensitive installations from his smart phone.
According to officials, the 29 Division Headquarters in the Mamoon Cantt is one of the most important and biggest military bases of the Army.
“Most often, the ISI tends to look for a new target after attacking one because the level of guard is raised in the place that has been attacked. But this arrest has surprised us,” said an intelligence official.
Irshad was tasked with collecting photographs of all sensitive installations and equipment inside the Cantt and was sending them to his Indian handler.
“He will now be questioned on the basis of revelations by Sajjad that he was his handler and used to pass on the photographs to his Pakistani handlers through email and secure chat messaging services,” said the official.