Himachal Police bust ISI spy network – suspect wider operation

Shimla: Suspecting a wider intelligence network that was spying for Pakistan’s Inter Service Intelligence (ISI), police have arrested three suspects, including a hawala operator, and are ascertaining the antecedents of at least seven other people, top police officials said.

Making the disclosure before the media, ID Bhandari, ADGP of CID said, “arrest and interrogation of Amrik Singh, a hawala operator from Mandi, has established that funds transferred from Thailand and Hong Kong were regularly being deposited in 10 accounts, 3 of which were in Himachal.

Amrik was arrested on Friday after it was found that he had been making regular payments to Bhagwan Dass, an ex-serviceman from Kangra who was under Intelligence Bureau (IB) surveillance for about two months. On suspicion of gathering and supplying sensitive information to ISI, Bhagwan Chand was arrested on Thursday.

Accounts of Amrik show, said the intelligence chief, that in the last six months he had done about Rs 1 crore of hawala transactions.

“Another suspect in the ISI spying operation, Ghanshyam Singh Guleria, a honorary captain who recently retired from the army, has been arrested from close to the Western Command headquarters at Chandimandir. The giveaway was that Amrik was making regular payments into the village account of Guleria in Kangra,” said Bhandari.

Ruling out the involvement of the third account holder from Himachal in the network, he said that regular payments into the account of Punia Devi, a housewife in Mandi whose husband works as a cook in Hong Kong, appear to remittances routed through the hawala network.

Without disclosing any more names, Bhandari said “the other 7 persons who were receiving payments from the hawala operator were under police surveillance and could be detained for questioning.”

Modus Operandi

An ISI operative named Gurmeet Singh, posing as a retired India army serviceman with a SIM card from Punjab, would establish contact with other retired army personnel by claiming that they had served together at some stations.

Then Gurmeet would claim that he was gathering information about troops morale, movements and happenings in cantonments for supplying ground reports to the Indian armed forces. The targeted ex-serviceman would then be offered a regular payment for supplying information about happenings at army establishments close to where they lived.

After the police broke the network, the SIM card used by Gurmeet has become inactive. Intelligence officers here believe that both the person and the phone number was only an alibi, for the real person behind the operation was one Major Kureshi, a Pakistan based ISI agent.

Amrik Singh is said to have established a hawala network with the help of his brother Avtar Singh, who lives in Thailand. Knowingly or unknowingly, Amrik had become the conduit through which ISI was making it payments for sourcing sensitive information.

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