‘Honey-trapped’ A Group Captain of the Indian Air Force (IAF) Detained On Charges Of ‘Spying For Pakistan’
A Group Captain of the Indian Air Force (IAF) was taken into custody on Wednesday evening for questioning on the suspicion of passing on sensitive information to a woman he apparently befriended on Facebook, NDTV reported.
Sources informed NDTV that it seemed that the captain had been honey-trapped by a woman who was likely working for Pakistan’s spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). The officer was posted in New Delhi.
The report also said, “Being posted at IAF headquarters in New Delhi, one always has access to a certain level of plans and classified documents.” According to sources, the officer might have passed on classified information through Facebook and WhatsApp.
The officer was identified during a routine counter-intelligence surveillance and was taken by the IAF’s Central Security and Investigation team, the sources added. Presently, officials are trying to ascertain the extent to which sensitive information had been leaked by the IAF officer.
They are also trying to establish whether other personnel were also involved in leaking information to hostile countries. The investigation team also found the officer using an unauthorised electronic device. The group captain has been detained for now and will be questioned for possible spying for Pakistan.
There are very strict guidelines on the use of social media in the Indian armed forces that restricted soldiers from sharing their identity, rank, posting and other professional details. They are also not allowed to post photographs in uniform.
A similar incident took place in 2015 ISI used Facebook to honeytrap IAF airman into spilling secrets
Ranjith KK, an Indian Air Force employee, got a Facebook friend request from a pretty woman based in the United Kingdom three years ago. He thought himself the luckiest of young men when the friendship took a spicy turn that included dirty talk late into the night. Already addicted to social media, the 30-something man began to remain online almost through the day for the woman, McNaught Damini, to come online and fulfil his fantasies.
McNaught’s profile on Facebook showed her to be a resident of Beeston, Leeds, an executive for an investigative magazine there. Ranjith, whose job as a lead aircraft man (LAC) was to help the technical crew look after the aircraft, was titillated by the intimate chatter made all the more naughty by the woman’s strong British accent. They soon moved from text chats to audio and photo exchanges on Whatsapp.
During one such tete-a-tete, McNaught seductively asked the Kerala man for some information on the IAF, ostensibly for the news magazine she worked for. She had earlier even interviewed him for the magazine, so an enamoured Ranjith thought nothing of divulging the info. In fact, he thought it a bonus when she said she would pay him for any material he passed to her.
One day, the woman asked him if he could give her some details about TAC-DE (Tactical and Combat Deployment Establishment) in Gwalior. He refused, knowing how strategically important this unit is to the IAF. He could as well have been hit by a missile, for the woman suddenly turned from coy to vicious, confronting him with recordings of the chats and documentation of the information he had shared earlier.
Too late, Ranjith realised he had become the latest victim of an ISI honeytrap. Threatened with exposure, he had no option but to pass on crucial IAF-related dope to an ISI handler he was introduced to. Every time he moved stations for training – Belgaum to Chennai, and lately to Delhi — the ISI dogged him, sometimes over Facebook and Whatsapp, but also via Skype.
Thrice in Belgaum, six times in Chennai and also in Delhi, Ranjith leaked sensitive data on air force exercises, movement of aircraft and deployment of various flying units, his major lapse being supplying the position and other details of Mirage and fighter jets at TAC-DE.
Military Intelligence (MI) and Delhi Police caught up with him, and Ranjith was arrested on Monday, hours after the IAF dismissed him from service. Ravindra Yadav, joint commissioner of police, Crime Branch, revealed that the man had been under electronic surveillance for some months after MI sleuths had tracked communications between him and his handler. A few days ago, a police team led by ACP KPS Malhotra interrogated him at length in Bathinda. They brought him to Delhi, where he was formally arrested, completely wrecking Ranjith’s planned tryst on New Year’s Eve with his lady love at a luxury hotel in New Delhi.