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Ramakanta Biswas

Four contractual employees at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Chandipur in Odisha's Balasore district have been arrested, hours after they were picked up for questioning on charges of leaking sensitive information to foreign agents.

Inspector-General of Police (Eastern Range) IG Himanshu Lal and Balsore Superintendent of Police confirmed the arrest of the four accused. 

"Basing on input received from reliable sources, four persons have been apprehended in Chandipur PS Case No.76, Dt.14.09.21, U/S- 120-B/121-A/34 IPC-R/W- Sec-3,4&5 of Official Secret Act by Balasore District police," said a press note issued by the police.

Three of them have been identified as Basanta Behera, Tulu Behera and Sheikh Musaq. While Basanta was working as an AC operator at the launch pad-3 of ITR, three others also engaged in other works at the same launch pad.

They have been arrested for committing offence of causing serious harm to the security, sovereignty and integrity of our nation and further interrogation of the four accused and some others are going on to unearth more evidence in the case.

"In this case, we had got credible intelligence that some persons are wrongfully and wilfully communicating the classified defence secrets to foreign agents, appearing to be Pakistani agents, being contacted from various ISD phone numbers and in exchange, they were getting wrongful monetary benefits from them," the press note stated.

"Basing on these inputs, multiple police teams were formed to apprehend the culprits. In the course of raids by Balasore police, several incriminating materials are also recovered," it added. 

According to sources, all the four accused were working at the launch pad-3 of Integrated Test Range (ITR), Chandipur. 

The intelligence reports stated the accused received international calls mostly from Pakistan-Rajasthan border areas and passed secret information to foreign agents.    

This is not the first instance of arrest of any employee of DRDO Chandipur on charges of espionage. Earlier, a similar case in Balasore district was registered in Chandipur police station and investigated by Crime Branch, Odisha that resulted in the conviction of the accused.

On February 11, 2021, Ishwar Chandra Behera, a cameraman at Integrated Test Range (ITR) in Chandipur was sentenced to life imprisonment for spying for Pakistani intelligence agency ISI. He was arrested in February 2015 on charges of sharing secret data to Pakistan.

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