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Arrested Delhi journalist Rajeev Sharma was passing info to the Chinese

Rajeev Sharma, who has been arrested by the Delhi Police in connection with a case under the Official Secrets Act. Photo: Delhi Police via PTI  

Days after freelance journalist Rajeev Sharma was arrested by Delhi Police under the British-era Official Secrets Act (OSA) for allegedly passing on “sensitive information” to Chinese intelligence, police said on Saturday that two of his associates including a Chinese woman and a Nepalese man have also been arrested.

So far, an officer said, the role of any Ministry of Defence officials is not under the scanner. Agencies are trying to establish how Mr. Sharma accessed the sensitive information. The nature of information shared with the Chinese was also not clear.

Mr. Sharma, 61, a political commentator and strategic analyst from Delhi has earlier worked with The Tribune newspaper and was also associated with the Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF), a think tank whose founding director is National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval. Following his arrest, a webpage linking his work to the VIF has been removed.

However, a February 22, 2010 archived news analysis by Mr. Sharma on the online portal, rediff.com says the “writer is chief editor and senior fellow with the New Delhi based thinktank Vivekananda International Foundation.” 

Mr. Sharma, a journalist accredited by the Press Information Bureau (PIB) was arrested on September 14. The PIB accreditation is provided after multiple layer of security checks and is renewed annually.

On the day of his arrest, he posted on his LinkedIn page that, “Despite the five-point peace plan reached between #india and #china in #moscow last week, China can still do mischief and the only mantra for India in dealing with the #chinese must be: distrust and verify.” 

India and China are engaged in a tense border standoff since April-May in eastern Ladakh.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Special Cell) Sanjeev Yadav said on Saturday that the other two accused have been identified as Qing Shi and Sher Singh alias Raj Bohra, a native of Nepal, who were allegedly supplying money to Mr. Sharma, routed through hawala channels for sharing sensitive information to Chinese intelligence.

Qing Shi (left) and Sher Singh alias Raj Bohra, who were allegedly supplying money to Rajeev Sharma, the journalist arrested by Delhi Police under the Official Secrets Act. Photo: Delhi Police via PTI

Qing Shi (left) and Sher Singh alias Raj Bohra, who were allegedly supplying money to Rajeev Sharma, the journalist arrested by Delhi Police under the Official Secrets Act. Photo: Delhi Police via PTI  

 

Police said they had received an input from an intelligence agency that Mr. Sharma, resident of Pitampura, was having links with foreign intelligence officer and had been receiving money through illegal means and Western Union Money Transfer following which a case under sections of the OSA was registered on September 13 and Mr. Sharma was arrested the next day. “Laptop, confidential documents related to Indian Defence department and other incriminating documents were recovered,” Mr. Yadav said.

During interrogation, Mr. Sharma allegedly told police of his involvement in procurement of sensitive information and then conveying it to his handlers Michael and George, based in Kunming in China. “He said he had sent several documents in the form of reports to his handlers and got a handsome remuneration for it,” Mr. Yadav said.

Police said that from 2010 to 2014, Mr. Sharma wrote for Global Times, “a mouthpiece of Chinese government” after which a Chinese intelligence agent Michael contacted Mr. Sharma through LinkedIn and invited him for an interview in China fully funded by Michael.

During the interview, Michael and his junior Xou asked Mr. Sharma to provide inputs on various aspects of Indo-China relations.

“He was tasked to provide the information/inputs on issues like Indian deployment on Bhutan-Sikkim-China tri-junction including Doklam, the pattern of India-Myanmar military co-operation, India-China boundary issue among others,” he said, adding that the journalist had visited Maldives and Loas to meet with them and brief them on these issues.

Police said in 2019, Mr. Sharma came in touch with another Kunming-based Chinese entity George who was introduced as General Manager of a Chinese Media Company and asked Mr. Sharma to write on Dalai Lama related issues. For this Mr. Sharma was offered $500 per article. George told the accused that he’ll receive money through his company’s sister concern being operated by Qing Shi in Mahiparpur. “He received more than ₹30 lakh from George in 10 instalments from January 2019 to September 2020 for the information provided,” Mr. Yadav said.

Police said that during probe, it was found that shell companies were being operated by foreign intelligence to transfer money to Mr. Sharma. It was also revealed, police claimed, that the companies were being run by Jhang Chang and his wife Chnag-li-la under fake names as Suraj and Usha who are both in China and on their behalf, Qing Shi and Sher Singh were running the companies.

Who is Qing Shi?

A senior government official said Qing Shi,30, first arrived in India in 2013 on a student visa. She enrolled in two courses at a Central university in Delhi and pursued Masters in nursing and completed a course in English language. Her latest “business visa” was issued on July 18 last year. Till 2017 while living in Delhi, she worked for KEDI Healthcare, a Nigeria-based healthcare products company with business interests in pharmaceutical sectors in China that promotes traditional Chinese medical culture in the world.

At the time of her arrest, she was working as a manager at Mzmall Private Limited, a Chinese handicraft company operating from Mahipalpur in south Delhi.

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Printable version | Oct 31, 2020 9:55:37 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/arrested-scribe-rajeev-sharma-was-passing-info-on-border-strategy-to-chinese-intelligence-police/article32648112.ece

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