The key conspirator in the Vishakhapatnam espionage case has been arrested. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Friday arrested Mohammed Haroon Haji Abdul Rehman Lakdawala (49), a resident of Mumbai. The case was about the alleged leaking of sensitive information to Pakistani intelligence agency ISI.
He has been arrested for criminal conspiracy, under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and the Official Secrets Act. The probe agency has also seized digital devices and incriminating documents from his residence.
Lakdawala's role in espionage racket
It was on December 20 last year when Indian intelligence agencies busted the espionage racket linked to Pakistan. According to an official from NIA, Lakdawala is one of the key conspirators in the case. The case was taken over by the NIA in December 2019.
The NIA stated that Lakdawala will be produced in a Court in Vijayawada on Saturday. He was produced before a local court in Mumbai for seeking a transit remand.
With the arrest of Lakdawala, a total of 14 accused have so far been arrested, including 11 Navy personnel, Pakistani-born Indian national Shaista Qaiser, and her associate.
The official stated that Lakdawala was a regular visitor to Pakistan and he used to go there to meet his handlers under the guise of conducting cross-border trade. It was during one of these visits to Pakistan when he came across two spies who asked him to deposit money into the bank accounts of Navy personnel at regular intervals. Different means were used for depositing the money.
Several searches were carried out at his house and the agency found many digital devices and incriminating documents. The NIA official added that further investigation in the case was underway.
Agents were recruited in India by Pakistan-based spies so that classified and sensitive information could be collected regarding locations and movements of Indian naval ships and submarines and other defence establishments.
He added that "Investigation revealed that a few Navy personnel came in contact with Pakistani nationals through various social media platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp and were involved in sharing classified information in lieu of monetary gains. The money was deposited into the bank accounts of the Navy personnel through Indian associates having business interests in Pakistan."