NIA arrests absconding accused involved in activation of SIM cards for Pak-ISI officials in Visakhapatnam espionage case
New Delhi, Nov 20 (IANS) The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Monday arrested one more accused involved in the activation of the SIM cards that were being used by the Pakistani Intelligence Officers in connection with its probe into the Visakhapatnam espionage case involving leakage of classified Defence information, officials said.
An NIA spokesperson here said that the agency has arrested Amaan Salim Shaikh from Mumbai following raids conducted by it on Monday at two locations in Maharashtra’s Mumbai and at Assam’s Nagaon district.
The official said that with Shaikh’s arrest, the total number of accused arrested in the case so far stands at three. A total of four persons, including two absconding Pakistani operatives, have already been chargesheeted by the NIA in the case.
The official said that Shaikh was found involved in the activation of the SIM cards that were being used by the Pakistani Intelligence Officers involved in the racket, which first came to light in 2021, when the Counter Intelligence Cell, Andhra Pradesh, registered the case as on January 12 2021, under several sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Official Secrets Act.
The NIA took over the case in June 2023. The official said that the agency officials also seized two mobile phones from the location from which Shaikh was arrested while two more mobile phones and a host of sensitive documents were seized from other locations.
One July 19, 2023, the NIA had filed a charge sheet against two accused, including an absconding Pakistani national, Meer Balaj Khan. The NIA probe had revealed that Khan, along with an arrested accused, identified as Akash Solanki, were part of an espionage module who were procuring and leaking sensitive vital information pertaining to the Indian Navy to Pakistan-based handlers.
On November 6, 2023, the NIA had filed a supplementary charge sheet against two other accused persons, identified as Manmohan Surendra Panda and Alven.
While Panda is under arrest, Alven, a Pakistani Intelligence Operative, is absconding, as he’s based in Pakistan.
The official said that custodial interrogation of Shaikh is expected to yield more leads in the conspiracy relating to attempts by foreign-based elements to obtain sensitive and classified information relating to Defence establishments across the country.