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Punjab Police Bust ISI-linked Espionage Network, 2 Army Men Arrested

Punjab police have arrested two army personnel on charges of espionage

Punjab police have arrested two army personnel on charges of espionage

The case came to light during the questioning of cross-border drug smuggler Ranvir Singh, who was arrested with 70 grams of heroin on May 24.

The Punjab police have busted a major espionage network with the arrest of two Army personnel on charges of spying and providing classified documents to the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan, an official statement said.

The accused have been identified as Sepoy Harpreet Singh (23) and Sepoy Gurbhej Singh (23). Harpreet, who hails from Cheecha, a village in Amritsar, was posted in Anantnag and had joined the Indian Army in 2017. He belongs to the 19 Rashtriya Rifles. Gurbhej is a native of village Punian in Tarn Taran, and belongs to 18 Sikh Light Infantry. He was working as a clerk in Kargil. He had joined the Indian Army in 2015.

Director-General of Police (DGP) Punjab Dinkar Gupta, said that Jalandhar Rural Police led by SSP Naveen Singla, while investigating an NDPS case, recovered confidential and secret documents related to the functioning and deployment of the Indian Army from cross-border drug smuggler Ranvir Singh, who was arrested with 70 grams of heroin on May 24.

He said that, during interrogation, Ranvir disclosed that he got these documents from Harpreet, who was his friend, as they both belong to the same village. “Ranvir motivated and lured Harpreet with financial benefits for sharing defence related classified documents, following which the latter induced his friend Gurbhej into such anti-national spying activities,” said Gupta and added that since Gurbhej was working as a clerk in 121 Infantry Brigade Headquarters in Kargil, he could get easy access to these classified documents containing both strategic and tactical information relating to the Indian Army.

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Gupta said that both the accused Army personnel had already shared photos of over 900 classified documents — pertaining to the defence of the country and national security — to Ranvir Singh over a period of four months between February and May 2021.  Ranvir reportedly passed them on to Pakistani Intelligence Officers.

The DGP revealed that Ranvir further used to send these classified documents to either the Pakistan ISI operatives directly or via Gopi — the one identified as the main drug smuggler from village Dauke in Amritsar having links with Pakistan based drug-smuggling syndicates and ISI officials, who invariably work in tandem with each other.

Following Ranvir’s disclosures, the police have also arrested Gopi, who has confessed to transferring classified documents to Pakistan-based drug smugglers, one of whom has been identified as Kothar and an alleged Pak ISI operative identified as Sikander in lieu of supply of heroin and financial benefits, DGP Dinkar Gupta said adding that all these photographs were transmitted over encrypted Apps.

Gupta said that the accused got monetary inducements for sharing confidential information and that Ranvir Singh had given money to Harpreet Singh, who then transferred it to Gurbhej’s account.

SSP Naveen Singla said that the Army authorities had handed over both the accused Army personnel to Jalandhar Rural Police and further investigations were being carried out to ascertain the involvement of any other accused persons.

Meanwhile, sections 124-A and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and sections 3, 5 and 9 of the Official Secrets Act have been applied against the names of both the Army personnel and Gopi in the FIR no. 73 dated May 24, 2021, which was initially registered against Ranvir under sections 21(B)/61/85 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act at Mehatpur police station in Jalandhar Rural.

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first published:July 06, 2021, 19:16 IST