A man from Godhra in Gujarat’s Panchmahal district was arrested in connection with the Indian Navy espionage case in a joint operation carried out by the Counter Intelligence Cell of Andhra Pradesh police and Gujarat police, officials said on Tuesday. Altaf Hussain Harun Ghanchi was arrested late Monday night by the joint teams of Andhra Pradesh police and the Special Operations Group (SOG) and Local Crime Branch (LCB) of Panchmahal police from Godhra’s Mohmmadi Mohalla, an official said.
The Andhra Pradesh police on Tuesday got the transit remand of the accused from a court in Godhra, Panchmahal Superintendent of Police Leena Patil said. Before the arrest, the police carried out raids at five-six different localities in Godhra on Monday and detained a few suspects, seizing and examining mobile phones, SIM cards and other gadgets, a Panchmahal police release informed.
“After questioning the suspects, the Andhra Pradesh police finally arrested Ghanchi at around 11 pm on Monday. Ghanchi is accused of indulging in anti-national activities and he used SIM cards of different mobile companies to get OTPs of WhatsApp accounts which he sent to his ‘masters’ in Pakistan to allow them to operate Indian WhatsApp accounts from Pakistan,” an official said. The WhatsApp accounts were then used to “honey-trap” members of the Indian Navy, the release said, adding that Ghanchi had visited Pakistan in 2016 where he came in contact with elements involved in terror activities.
The case relates to an international espionage racket in which Pakistan-based spies recruited agents in India to collect sensitive and classified information on locations and movement of Indian naval ships and submarines, as well as other defence establishments. Investigation revealed a few Navy personnel came in contact with Pakistani agents through social media platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp, among others, and some of them shared classified information for which money was deposited in their bank accounts through ISI’s Indian associates who had business interests in Pakistan.