In yet another incident that confirms Pakistani spy agency ISI’s growing footprints in India, the Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terror Squad has busted a gang that was operating at least six hi-tech illegal telephone exchanges which was used to coordinate with ISI bigwigs in the neighbouring country.
According to reports, ATS officials on Wednesday raided a FIIT JEE coaching centre in Delhi’s Punjabi Bagh and seized various documents and instruments. Besides, three persons were also taken into custody for further interrogation.
Police said that the gang used these telephone exchanges to coordinate with their handlers in Pakistan to plan possible attacks in several Indian cities.
The accused were identified as Gulshan Sen of Mehrauli in Delhi and Shyam Babu and Shivendra Mishra of Sitapur in Lucknow.
Gulshan Sen, who ran the telephone exchange, was working as the technical head at the institute. Officials said six SIM boxes installed in the electricity unit have been seized. Earlier, police had seized 16 SIM box units, 140 prepaid SIM cards, 10 mobile phones, 28 data cards and five laptops from the accused.
They also made calls to military officials in Jammu and Kashmir posing as their seniors in order to get defence secrets from them, police said.
The raid was conducted after a tip-off about at least six telephone exchanges being run in Delhi, which were in operation since last year, police added.
The telephone exchanges were set up in different rooms of the institute. They would mask the VPN (Virtual Private Network) server locations, so that their calls to Pakistan and other places to connect with handlers were not traced.
ATS head Arun had come to Delhi with his team to conduct raids at suspected locations to nab them.
"The ISI agents spied on India's military operations. Sen and his associates were providing a safe illegal platform to five other ISI spies through a fake telephone exchange which they used to make calls to military officers in Jammu and Kashmir posing as their seniors to gather secret inputs of their army base camps," Arun said.
"Sen connected with ISI operators sitting in Pakistan and other overseas countries such as Bangladesh, Canada, Nepal, Afghanistan, Kuwait and some Gulf countries through the telephone exchange," he informed.
Sen had earlier spent five years in Afghanistan, where he had worked for a US company engaged in supplying materials to customers through contractors. He was carrying out undesirable activities in Afghanistan also, Arun said.
Sen is being interrogated by the ATS and central intelligence agencies.
Police are on the lookout for the absconding five other ISI accomplices.
"They used to obtain the army base camp maps, secret inputs of defence and other internal functions, troop deployment and operations. Some officers of military may have been involved with them. This angle is being investigated," Arun said.
Sen, an expert in cyber technologies, is alleged to have strong connections with intelligence agencies of other countries, including Kuwait and Afghanistan.
"The police are trying to ascertain how many calls were made from this fake telephone exchange. They were trying to plan attacks on army base camps in border areas for which they were collecting secret information," he said.