The UP Anti-Terrorism Squad in a joint exercise with Maharashtra Police carried out overnight raids and nabbed a suspected ISI operative in Mumbai, who was part of an espionage racket linked to the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi.
A total of three ISI suspects have been arrested since yesterday. Acting on leads provided by ISI suspect Aftab Ali, arrested from Faizabad, 120 km from here yesterday, the UP ATS picked up Altaf Qureshi late last night from Masjid Bunder area in South Mumbai and Javed Iqbal from Yusuf Manzil building at Agreepada this morning, IG UP-ATS Aseem Arun said in Lucknow. He said the trio was involved in an espionage racket, with Aftab, believed to have been trained by Pakistan’s spy agency ISI, maintaining constant touch with officials in the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi.
Pictures of the cantonment area in Faizabad have been recovered from his mobile phone and more clues are likely to be found through his mobile chats, he said.
Aftab was also allegedly keeping a close vigil on the movement of troops in the area, especially between Faizabad and Lucknow, besides deployment of army battalions. Following Aftab’s interrogation, Qureshi, a hawala operator who also allegedly worked for ISI was held in Mumbai, while Iqbal, the third suspect, is an aide of Qureshi, Arun said.
Qureshi had allegedly deposited money in the bank account of Aftab for carrying out espionage activities. ATS officials seized a cellphone and Rs 71.57 lakh in cash from the house of Qureshi, who was in hawala business at the behest of one Jawed Naviwala, the official said.
During the duo’s interrogation, it was found that Javed used to get instructions from Pakistan and at his behest Qureshi often deposited money in Aftab’s bank account, he said.
Police were questioning Qureshi to know on whose directive he had deposited the money in Aftab’s account. Javed was in constant touch with ISI officials in the neighbouring country, he said.
During their interrogation, names of some more persons cropped up, the official said, adding more arrests are likely. Aftab, booked under the Official Secrets Act, had allegedly passed on information about Indian Army’s movements to officers posted at Pakistan High Commission and also to ISI, the official claimed. He had allegedly provided information about the army’s movements and units in Faizabad, Lucknow and Amritsar, he said.
Aftab is a resident of Khwaspura area of Faizabad, Arun said. The ATS was continuously getting reports about military information being leaked to intelligence officials in the Pakistani High Commission and ISI and the agency was working on it through electronic surveillance, ATS sources said. “He was in constant touch with Pakistan High Commission,” state ATS said in a statement.
The ATS got cracking after Uttar Pradesh Police recently issued a warning of a possible terror attack in the state by ISI-trained terrorists. “The group, allegedly trained by Pakistan’s ISI, has reportedly been asked to target Ayodhya, Varanasi, Vrindavan, and the Taj Mahal in Agra,” UP police said.
Acting on intelligence inputs, security was upgraded at several religious places – including Ayodhya, Kashi and Mathura – and also at vital installations, including airports, bus and railway stations. Central Intelligence agencies have been sharing inputs with the UP Police since February about increased activity of terrorists in the state.
A Khurasan module was unearthed after Saifullah’s death in March. Recently, some self-radicalised youths were also arrested by the UP Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS).