How safe is the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) Integrated Test Range (ITR) in Balasore’s Chandipur after five persons including few contractual staff were recently arrested on charges of passing classified information to Pakistani agents belonging to the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)?
As the investigation into the sensational case concerning national security intensifies, the illegal Bangladeshi Immigrants and infiltrators crammed in the Abdul Kalam Island in neighbouring Bhadrak district have come under the scanner. The little island is plagued with several issues primarily arising out of these ‘personae non grata’. In fact, the spiralling growth of the ghettos in the island has raised apprehensions about the safety of several high-security defence installations in Odisha.
Meanwhile, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Odisha’s Crime Branch have intensified probe into the alleged espionage case at Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) high-security Integrated Test Range (ITR) in Chandipur.
The premier investigating agencies are now trying to unravel the entire spy network. Apart from this, the officials are also trying to find out the information that has been leaked by the arrested accused to the suspected agents across the border.
So far, five contractual staff including a driver have been arrested on the charges of passing classified information about DRDO to Pakistani agents.
As per reports, the accused were possibly in contact with a Pakistani woman and were being allegedly paid by her for providing secret inputs. The woman is suspected to be an ISI agent and tricked the accused into leaking sensitive information of the DRDO.
A four-member team of the Crime Branch is trying to get to the root of what information had been passed on by the accused and who were their handlers. The sleuths are also looking into the ‘honey trap’ angle that has cropped during investigation, requiring deeper probe.
On the other hand, the two member NIA team which reached Balasore yesterday held close door meetings with the officials of the ITR today.
Source said the Crime Branch will try to ascertain the involvement of some ‘big players’ in the entire alleged espionage ring. It is pertinent to mention here that the one more accused, identified as Sachin Kumar, a driver at Chandipur DRDO was also nabbed yesterday. Earlier four other contractual employees- Basanta Behera, an AC operator, Hemanta Kumar Mistri, a diesel gen-set operator, Tapas Ranjan Nayak, an employee at ITR main gate and Sk Musafir, an AC operator were arrested on September 14.
The accused Sachin, was working as a driver to a senior official of the ITR. Sachin is on the radar of the investigation agencies as it is suspected that he might be have been passing details of the movement of senior officials and other scientists. As the matter is highly sensitive concerning the security of the nation, senior Crime Branch officials refused speak more on the case probe.
“We took over the investigation only yesterday. We cannot say anything about the reported ‘honey trap’ ploy right now,” said Prashant Bisoyi, Additional SP, Crime Branch.
Many believe that equal focus should also be given on the Abdul Kalam island (in Dhamra) probe where local refugees have ensured an unchecked inflow of infiltrators from Bangladesh. The infiltrators have made permanent settlements in Balasore, Bhadrak, Kendrapara and Puri districts.
Retired police officials and strategic experts opined that the close distance between Chandipur, Wheeler Island and Bangladesh shores gives an excellent chance for the infiltrators to share secret information in person via sea route by dodging electronic surveillance.
“From Bengal border to Gopalpur in Odisha, there are small villages where migrants from Bangladesh have settled. As they are staying close to the coast here, they are aware of our strategy. One can easily share geo location by standing near the launching pad,” said Santosh Nayak, Retired Odisha Police SP.
Bijay Kumar Panigrahi, a lawyer from Balasore said, “There is a need for a detailed investigation into the alleged espionage case.”