‘Islamic preacher, failed grocer were easy prey for ISI’
The two persons arrested in Delhi on Thursday on the charge of passing on defence related information to Pakistan were paid meagre amounts for their efforts to collect information, according to investigators.
“The amount varied between Rs. 30,000 to Rs. 50,000 a month. Each time, the spies would bring in a thick stack of documents, some of them useful, others not,” said Ravindra Yadav, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime).
Pakistan High Commission staffer Mahmood Akhtar, who is accused of being an ISI agent and their handler, allegedly asked his contacts in Rajasthan and Gujarat to target men who were struggling for money.
Of the two arrested, Maulana Ramzan Khan was a teacher in a mosque in Rajasthan’s Nagaur district. Also an “Islamic preacher,” he served as the caretaker of the mosque as well as taught around 40-50 children.
“He was being paid Rs. 2,000 for taking care of the mosque and Rs. 3,000 for his role as a teacher. That made him an easy target,” said a senior police officer.
But what really made him a potential spy was because of his public image in the area. “His visitors included many serving and retired personnel from the Army and the BSF,” said the investigator.
Moreover, living close to the India-Pakistan border, he was familiar with the topography of the area. So, around one-and-half-years ago, Akhtar allegedly asked him to build on his contacts and seek defence related information, also promising him much better pay for his efforts.
The other arrested person, Subhash Jangir, too was an “easy prey.” At the time of his ”induction” as a spy around a year ago, he was running a grocery shop that was not doing well.
Jangir was lured by Khan as they lived in the same area. “Jangir was under heavy debt and Khan, being aware of his financial condition, saw him as a soft target,” said Mr. Yadav.
Bank accounts under lens
But Khan allegedly introduced Jangir as a paramilitary officer in his bid to extract more money from Akhtar, the officer said.
Investigators said the bank accounts of the arrested men would be analysed to identify whether any Army or BSF personnel suspected of being hand in glove were receiving money.
A hunt is also on for many other others suspected to be spying for Pakistan.
Police said they have credible clues regarding the identity of some of them and expect to gather more information based on the interrogation of Shoaib, a third suspect who was apprehended from Jodhpur by the Rajasthan Police late Thursday afternoon.