Retired army havildar Munawwar Ahmad Mir, who was arrested on Friday in a cross-border espionage racket for supplying confidential documents to Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), is a 1999 Kargil War veteran and a member of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
Mir, who had joined the army in 1995 and retired in 2011, was arrested from Manjakote in Jammu’s Rajouri district by Delhi Police’s Crime Branch and local police. He was produced before the local court and will be brought to Delhi on transit remand by Saturday.
He has been booked under 3/9 Official Secrets Act,” said Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Ravindra Yadav to Indian Express.
Mir had denied being part of the espionage racket when first questioned by police. Questioned on bank transaction details that show suspected ISI operative Kafaitullah Khan deposited money in his account, Mir said Khan borrowed Rs 25,000 from him and later returned it by depositing it in his account. Khan had been arrested earlier in the case.
But the Delhi Police claim they have crucial evidence in the form of tapped phone conversations between Mir and Khan, where the two discuss ‘secret documents’.
PDP MLA Choudhary Qamar Hussain said to the paper that Mir hails from his native village, and asserted his innocence. “I am sure he is innocent. He fought in the Kargil war. Many of his relatives were in the Army and it is unexpected that someone from this background will do such a thing. I know him for many years and he has been working for our party for the last one year,” he said.
Police are also looking for two serving army men and a civilian in connection with the case. These are Farid, posted at Darjeeling; Joginder, posted in Jammu, and Shabir alias Safar, teacher at a state-run school.
Khan claimed that he had first met one Faisal, who was an ‘ISI handler’ when he visited Pakistan in 2013. Khan says he has been working for Farid since.
Khan reportedly told investigators that Farid had given a CD to Shabir which contained the “Order of Battle and details of troop movement along the frontiers in case of war between the two countries”. Shabir then sent the CD to ‘ISI handler’ Faisal.
Khan reportedly sent documents to ISI handler Faisal’s email id, firstname.lastname@example.org from his email id email@example.com. He was asked to arrange for details of the total number of fighter planes in Srinagar and areas from where these planes arrived, location of several army units and deployment of BSF in Mendhan, Rajouri and Poonch, according to the report.
Then in 2015, BSF personnel Rasheed, who has been arrested too, joined the suspected racket and allegedly started sending information through Viber and WhatsApp.
Critically, Shabir is now working in an election office in Rajouri and is in constant touch with Faisal. He also plans to visit Pakistan soon, says the report.