In a major development in the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) espionage case, the Odisha Crime Branch claimed to have traced the money (payment) trail of the five arrested accused to their handlers in Uttar Pradesh (UP).
The UP-based handlers in turn were custodians of the remittance sent by their contacts across the border in Pakistan, top Crime Branch sources revealed.
The Crime Branch during the probe is learnt to have come across some documents/information which further indicates that apart from Pakistan, the financial transactions were also carried out by the sleeper cells located in Bangladesh. Following the development, some Bangladeshi immigrants in the State, who are suspected to be the couriers for the sleeper cells in Bangladesh, have come under the scanner of the investigating agency. “Efforts are on to trace the local conduits of the sleeper cells controlling the money trial,” sources said adding, “We have sought detailed reports on the money trail from the banks.”
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As the Crime Branch sleuths go about busting the entire ground network of the espionage ring, a three-member Indian Air Force team is learnt to have been aiding them in collecting reports about the type of information leaked by the accused before their arrest and the importance of the leads.
Sources said earlier on Monday, the Air Force team carried out a marathon interrogation of the five arrested DRDO employees deployed at the Integrated Test Range (ITR) in Chandipur, at the Crime Branch headquarters in Cuttack. Each of the accused was interrogated separately by the squad which went on for over five hours.
During the interrogation session, the defence sleuths tried to obtain details about the sensitive information the accused believed to have leaked to the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan.
The interrogation assumes considerable significance in the backdrop of the Crime Branch lead about their handlers in UP and money trail emanating from Pakistan. “The intensive interrogation session mainly focused on the identification of the handlers and the possible involvement of any high-profile DRDO official in the espionage syndicate,” sources added.
Meanwhile, sources said that the State investigating agency is most likely to seek help of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), especially after the revelation on the Pakistani money trail and UP-based handlers were made.