On Sunday, the Delhi Police announced that it had arrested two relatives — a Border Security Force (BSF) constable, and the other, a suspected Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) handler — on charges of providing confidential information, under the Official Secrets Act.
The Indian Express reported that the arrested individuals have been identified as Delhi-based Kafaitullah Khan, also known as Master Raja, and Abdul Rasheed, who is posted in the intelligence wing of the BSF. Both of them are from the Rajouri district of Jammu and Kashmir.
“Khan is a handler of Pakistani intelligence operatives, and Rasheed was one of his chief sources. They were running an espionage racket which was supported by Pakistan’s ISI. Both were arrested under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Official Secrets Act,” Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch) Ravindra Yadav told reporters.
So, just who is Master Raja?
Master Raja, who has reportedly been passing information along to a Pakistan intelligence operative for the past year, served in the BSF and later, the Jammu and Kashmir Police, reported Hindustan Times. Over time, sources quoted in the report said, he built a robust network of sources across the Army, BSF and Air Force, who used to send confidential information his way in exchange for money.
Master Raja reportedly used WhatsApp, Viber and email to pass along information. Ultimately, it was technology that led to his downfall. The Indian Express report quoted sources as stating that phones belonging to Master Raja and Rasheed were put under surveillance, and it was discovered that the former had been working ‘on the directions of a Pakistan intelligence operative’.
The Indian Express quoted Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch) Ravindra Yadav as saying, “Investigators are looking for a retired army havildar… (and) are also likely to get in touch with Khan’s brother”. He added that the spy ring was supported by ISI, to which Master Raja reported. Rasheed was a ‘prime source’.
Meanwhile, BSF director-general DK Pathak reportedly did not seem to think Rasheed was that big a fish. The Times of India quoted the DG as saying, “Rasheed may not have had access to classified information at the Rajouri office. But he must have had information about troop movements and other details of the camps and border outposts.”
Which, reports indicate, is exactly what Master Raja was after.
Master Raja reportedly served as a handler for numerous agents in India, to procure information about security forces deployment and operations of the Indian Air Force.
The BSF is probing whether these inputs helped terrorists make ‘clean entries’ across the border ahead of the 27 July Gurdaspur attacks and 5 August Udhampur attack.
But Rasheed is only the tip of the iceberg.
Among Master Raja’s other agents are Irshad Ansari, Asfaq Ansari and Mohammad Jahangir, who were arrested from Ekbalpore in Kolkata, and charged with attempts to wage war against the state and criminal conspiracy. According to The Hindu, the trio is based in west Kolkata’s Garden Reach area, and Irshad Ansari has been working as a contract labourer at the local shipyard for the past decade.
“The three had visited Pakistan and it seems they were hired by the ISI during the visit,” the report quotes Deputy Commissioner of the Special Task Force Akhilesh Kumar Chaturvedi as saying.
The Times of India reports that further raids are taking place across Delhi, and Jammu and Kashmir to apprehend the other members of Master Raja’s ring.
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