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Another defence employee arrested for passing info to Pakistan military

The PIO used to ask him to send contacts of other serving personnel in Jaipur and Bikaner, details of units moving in or out of Jaipur, posting details of other MES employees.

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Rewari, Sep 17 : A civilian defence employee was arrested for passing on classified information to a Pakistani Military Intelligence (MI) unit after he had been honey-trapped on Facebook.

Official sources told IANS that based on a specific input of Lucknow based Indian Military Intelligence (MI), the Haryana Police’s Special Task Force (STF) on Wednesday arrested Mahesh Kumar, the civilian employee of Military Engineering Services (MES), from Rewari for sharing the information to a young woman associated with the Pakistani MI in return for money.

Kumar, according to police, was reportedly in touch with operatives of the Pakistani MI unit for the last two and a half years and has received money from them on multiple occasions.

Sources said that in June, Lucknow MI received the input that a mobile number used by Kumar, a who was posted in Jaipur, was passing on defence related information to a woman working for Pakistani military.

Kumar addressed the Pakistani operative as “Madamji”.

An operation code-named “Op Madamji” was launched by the MI unit to identify the suspect and ascertain the veracity of the input.

After investigation, Kumar worked as a civilian cleaning staff in MES Jaipur and was friends with at least three known and established Pakistani Intelligence Operative (PIO)-run Facebook accounts.

Sources said that Kumar had received at least two payments of Rs 5,000, each from his Pakistani handlers via Kerala.

The payment module was very similar to what had surfaced in the Rajasthan based espionage case, ‘Op Desert Chase’, wherein Vikas Kumar and Chiman Lal were arrested.

In the first week of September, Kumar was found staying in and around Rewari.

The MI shared the case details with the STF Haryana and a joint team of both the agencies investigated it further.

A swift operation to apprehend and interrogate the suspect was planned for September 13-14.

However before the Lucknow MI could obtain desired sanctions and place a team near Rewari, the suspect suddenly moved out of Haryana, the sources said.

The STF Haryana recently indicated that Kumar was likely to visit Rewari again on Wednesday.

As a result, STF Haryana and Lucknow and Jaipur units of MI formulated a new plan to arrest him.

After his arrest on Wednesday afternoon, Kumar’s mobile phone was seized and he was taken for initial examination and question.

The accused was subjected to joint questioning by the teams of MI Lucknow, STF Haryana and MI Jaipur.

Official sources said during, questioning. Kumar admitted to have sent a friend request to a Facebook account with the name ‘Harleen Gill’ in July 2018.

They became friends on Facebook and used to communicate through text and audio/video chats via Messenger.

The account was run by a PIO, a young woman, likely in her 30s who claimed to be working with the Principal Controller of Defence Accounts (PCDA) office in Jalandhar.

However, the PIO’s Facebook account ‘Harleen Gill’ deactivated after several months.

Later, he got a friend-request from the same PIO in 2019, this time from a Facebook account with the name of ‘Harman Kour’.

They started communicating on Facebook messenger and later graduated to WhatsApp.

Kumar was found to have been in touch with at least two WhatsApp numbers of the PIO. They used to exchange text and audio messages between them over WhatsApp and also used to video chat.

Sources said he admitted before the police that he had shared the ORBAT of a Jaipur based Army Brigade, details of some senior officers in Jaipur, location of PCDA Jaipur, details of MES complaint records, Covid-19 state of the Jaipur cantonment and a posting order of civilian MES employees.

He used to gather movement related information by striking conversations with service personnel coming to Jaipur MES office for various purposes. He also admitted to having activated a WhatsApp number for the PIO by sharing OTP in 2019. However he claims that he took it back within a couple of days.

The PIO used to ask him to send contacts of other serving personnel in Jaipur and Bikaner, details of units moving in or out of Jaipur, posting details of other MES employees.

To lure him more, the PIO once promised him that she will get him posted to Delhi.

Kumar admitted to have passed on his Punjab National Bank account details to the PIO and to have received Rs 5,000 twice in his account as a gift from her in September 2019 and January 2020.

However it is suspected that he had received money from the PIO on several occasions, sources said.

Though the accused is a cleaning staff in MES Jaipur whose primary task is to clean offices there, he was found to have photos of several letters and notices in his mobile device including some with security classification and some giving out the details of all units and sub-units in Jaipur Cantonment. He also had photos of COVID-19 related circulars and a list of MES employees with their mobile numbers in his handset.

The accused was found to have deleted all his chats with PIOs. It seems during the two and half years of communication with the PIO the accused has passed more than what he is confessing, sources said.

His mobile phone was sent for forensic extraction and it is learnt that STF has found many documents in it that he was not supposed to keep. Apart from that traces of his communication and passage of information to the PIO were also learnt to have been found.

The accused was produced before the Duty Magistrate on Wednesday night. He has been booked under violation of Official Secret Act and an FIR has been lodged on Thursday.

He is expected to be produced before a court in Rewar after undergoing a Covid-19 test.

The Haryana STF may ask for police remand for a few more days for further investigation into the case and to complete the formalities.

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Alarming rise of crime against women in Assam: Congress

Assam Pradesh Congress Committee General Secretary Bobbeeta Sharma highlighted incidents of rape and violence in the recent past, including the alleged rape and killing of a teenager and her aunt in Dibrugarh district.

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Guwahati: The Assam Mahila Congress on Monday expressed concern over the “alarming increase” of crime against women during the last few years under the present BJP government.

The state has reported “the highest rate of crime against women for the last three years consecutively” and the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) statistics reveal that it is constantly increasing, Assam Mahila Congress president and MLA Nandita Das told reporters here.

Incidents of registered violence against women were 20,869 in 2016, which increased to 23,082 in 2017 and to 27,728 in 2018, while in 2019, it again reported the highest crime rate “at 177.8 per lakh population”, she said.

Assam Pradesh Congress Committee General Secretary Bobbeeta Sharma highlighted incidents of rape and violence in the recent past, including the alleged rape and killing of a teenager and her aunt in Dibrugarh district.

The girl was sleeping with her aunt, who was killed, and the girl was dragged out of the house, raped and then killed by the miscreants, Sharma alleged.

“A house is considered to be the safest place but under this government, even the four walls are not safe for women in Assam,” she said.

Sharma said the fact that such cases are increasing proves that the state government and its agencies have failed to instil fear among the perpetrators.

She added that the Congress in its manifesto for the forthcoming polls will include several measures for the protection of women, including a woman police battalion force and women cell in all police stations.

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India

Has China constructed village in Arunachal? Chidambaram latches onto BJP MP’s ‘allegation’ to corner Modi govt

BJP MP Tapir Gao has claimed that China has built a 100-house village in the “disputed area” deep into the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh.

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Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram demanded answers from the government on BJP MP Tapir Gao’s “claim” that China has built a 100-house village in the “disputed area” deep into the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh. He said if the allegation made out by the BJP MP is true, will the government again give a clean chit to China or blame previous governments for it.

Arunachal Pradesh is an Indian state, but China illegitimately considers it as a part of south Tibet which is under illegal occupation of the world’s most populous country.

There is a border dispute between the two neighbouring countries and there has been a troops build-up in eastern Ladakh after a bloody clash between the Indian Army and the People’s Liberation of Army (PLA) of China in June last year. India lost 20 soldiers in the Galwan valley clash. China also lost many soldiers but did not disclose the number of casualties.

Chidambaram, who was the home minister in the UPA government, also alleged that the Chinese have altered the status quo in Arunachal Pradesh.

“Mr Tapir Gao MP, belonging to BJP, has alleged that deep into Arunachal Pradesh, in a ‘disputed area’ within Indian territory, the Chinese have built a 100-house village, a bazaar and a two-lane road in the last year. If this is true, it is clear that the Chinese have altered the status quo by converting a disputed area into a permanent settlement of Chinese nationals. What has the government to say about these startling facts?” he asked.

“Will the government give another clean chit to China? Or will the government give a convoluted explanation blaming previous governments?” the senior Congress leader asked in a series of tweets.

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India

Downfall of the BJP govt has started with the farmers protest: Kisan Congress VP

Hitting out at the BJP government, he said that after coming to power in 2014 the government has started to distribute the certificate of fake nationalism.

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New Delhi : With the farmers agitation continuing for the 54th day and the crucial 10th round of talks of the farmers with the government scheduled on Tuesday, Kisan Congress Vice President Surendra Solanki on Monday said that the downfall of the Narendra Modi-led BJP government will start from this farmers agitation, as it is the first protest in 73 years of Independent India which has gone strong even during the Covid pandemic.

The Kisan Congress has been standing shoulder to shoulder with farmers by lending their hand for providing food and other materials to the farmers at several borders of the national capital, where the farmers have been agitating since November 26 last year demanding repealing of the three farm laws.

In an interview to IANS, Solanki alleged the motives of the government are not good, as it has already made up its mind “not to repeal” the three farm laws.

He said, “Somewhere the government is under pressure from its capitalist friends. And for the first time in the history of Independent India in last 73 years, such a huge number of farmers has been sitting on protest in this chilling winter and in this pandemic era.”

He said that the motives of the BJP are questionable as on number of occasions government has clearly said it will not repeal the farm laws.

“So once you are not in mood to listen to farmers then from where a solution can be expected?” he quipped.

To a question about the farmer leaders being called for questioning by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and many leaders describing the farmers as Khalistani, Solanki, who hails from Haryana, said, “There is a famous saying in Hindi ‘Vinash kale viprit Buddhi’, the brain of the government has stopped functioning in right direction.”

“They need to understand the fact that even during the nationwide lockdown, the farmers kept on supporting the GDP of the country,” he said, adding that even the sons of the farmers are part of the armed forces fighting for the country on borders.

Slamming BJP’s leaders, Solanki said: “Who are BJP leaders to distribute the certificate of nationalism to farmers? This is unfortunate and condemnable. Their decline has started now with the farmers agitation.”

When pointed out that the farmers were not allowed to enter the national capital, he said that it shows that they are not willing to “find a solution”.

“If the government had reports that the condition can deteriorate then they should have found a solution immediately instead of delaying it for more than 54 days. Why they have taken such long time? There are number of examples when the Supreme Court has held hearings and the government has taken decisions at midnight,” the Kisan Congress leader said.

Hitting out at the BJP government, he said that after coming to power in 2014 the government has started to distribute the certificate of fake nationalism.

“They need to tell the country about their contribution in the Independence movement and why the tricolour is not hoisted at the RSS headquarters at Nagpur,” Solanki said.

To a question that Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi hitting the streets in the favour of farmers on Friday, almost after a delay of 52 days and many of the Congres leaders missing on the front, the Kisan Congress leader said, “Rahul Gandhi has led from the front on the farmers issue and he has won the trust of farmers.”

He said that Rahul Gandhi has taken a stand for ther farmers in Uttar Pradesh, when then Chief Minister Mayawati decided to acquire the land of farmers in Bhatta Parsaul.

He highlighted that it was the Congress-led UPA govt that brought in the Land Acquisition Bill. “And after the Modi government came to power and it brought changes in the land acquisition bill, Rahul Gandhi opposed it in Parliament and fought it fearlessly and all of use got inspiration from him,” he said.

Talking about the role of the Kisan Congress against the three farm laws, Solanki said: “We were the first to oppose the ordinances when they were brought last year during the Covid pandemic. I even went to President Ram Nath Kovind and also staged a protest outside Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar’s residence during the nationwide lockdown amid the Covid pandemic to oppose the farm ordinances.”

Solanki also said that before participating in the protest in the national capital last Friday, Rahul Gandhi had held talks with farmers across the country virtually three months ago. “Rahul Gandhi also spoke to the traders in different mandis across the country to understand their grievances,” he said.

“Rahul Gandhi has also made it clear that if the government does not repeal these three farm laws, if voted to power, the Congress will repeal these laws,” he said

He also said that the Kisan Congress was the first organisation to demand compensation of Rs one crore to the families of the farmers who died during the protest and a government job to their kin.

Asked about the farmers’ planned tractor parade on Republic Day, Solanki said, “We are extending all supoort to the farmers for their planned Republic Day tractor parade. I am a farmer first. And I am associated with the party later.”

He also said that now the farmers agitation fight is about self-esteem for farmers and farmers have decided not to return home until the three farm laws are repealed.

Thousands of farmers from Punjab, Harayana and western Uttar Pradesh have been protesting against the three farm laws at several borders of ther national capital and over 60 farmers have died. The farmers are demanding the repeal of the three farm laws.

(Anand Singh can be contacted at [email protected])

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