Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Baleswar, Mar 11:
The SDJM court in Odisha’s district headquarters town of Baleswar today allowed the Crime Branch to take Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agent Asif Ali, an accused in the Naib Subedar Patan Kumar Poddar espionage case, on a four-day remand in connection with Integrated Test Range (ITR) espionage case.
Ali, who was arrested in August last year and is currently lodged in Meerut jail in Uttar Pradesh, had allegedly helped his handlers in the Pakistani spy agency to pass on information about India’s vital defence establishment.
The Crime Branch, which had arrested Ishwar Chandra Behera in January this year on charges of sharing strategic documents of ITR in Chandipur with suspected ISI agents, had sought the help of Meerut police to interrogate Ali for further leads in the case.
Sources revealed that during the interrogation earlier, Ali had confessed to the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Hyderabad police that he had handed over Rs 3 lakh, which was deposited in the accounts belonging to Indian Army personnel, including Poddar. He had claimed that the amount was sent by his handlers in Pakistan intelligence.
During its preliminary investigation, the Crime Branch had found that Behera, the contractual videographer at ITR, had received money from Abu Dhabi, Meerut, Mumbai, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh. It now wants to find out if he had any links with Ali, sources said.
Behera was allegedly in touch with the suspected ISI agents for more than one year and had received Rs 35,000 in six installments in between December 2013 and December 2014, sources revealed.
What made the Crime Branch more suspicious of Behera’s possible links with Ali was the fact that he had received two money orders of Rs 5,000 each from Meerut while four transactions – Rs 5,000 each on two occasions and R 7,500 each on two more – were deposited in his Chandipur SBI account through net banking, the sources added.