TWO DAYS after the UP ATS conducted searches at the offices of an additional district magistrate (ADM) and sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) in Jhansi, following an input that an official was allegedly sending sensitive information about the Army to Pakistan’s ISI, the agency on Monday said it did not have enough evidence to book the accused for sedition. The accused has been identified as Raghvendra Ahirwar, who was posted at the SDM’s Sadar office from 2009 to 2017. In June, he was transferred to the office of Jhansi Additional District Magistrate (Law) Pappu Gupta, where he was posted as the stenographer. Role of other officials posted at the SDM office between 2009 and 2017 is also being probed, said sources.
According to ATS, Ahirwar allegedly shared sensitive information about the movement and arms training of the Army establishment in Jhansi Cantonment to ISI when he was posted in the SDM office. The Army routinely sends information about such events to the district administration, said the agency.
Asked why no serious charge, including sedition, was being slapped on Ahirwar, Additional Director General (Law and Order) Anand Kumar said: “After investigation, if there is evidence, other charges will be added against Ahirwar. On the basis of the evidence collected so far, legal experts have advised that he could only be booked under the Official Secret Act.” “Investigation is on and we are trying to establish the identity of the person who used to seek information from Ahirwar. The link between that person and ISI is yet to be established,” said Kumar.
The ATS, meanwhile, has sent a report to Jhansi District Magistrate K S Chauhan, seeking departmental action against Ahirwar. When contacted, Chauhan said: “The police report against Ahirwar will be forwarded to the commissioner for a decision regarding departmental action.” Senior Superintendent of Police (ATS) Umesh Kumar Srivastava said, “Since under Official Secret Act, punishment given is less than seven years, Ahirwar has not been arrested. The agency, after obtaining prosecution sanction against Ahirwar, will file chargesheet against him in court.”
During questioning, Ahirwar allegedly told ATS officials that Army units used to visit Jhansi-based Babina area for firing practice. While the district magistrate used to know about the event, and a copy of the programme was also forwarded to the SDM office. “Ahirwar confessed that since 2009, a person, who had identified himself as Major Yadav — allegedly posted at Babina field firing range — used to collect such information from him over the phone. He used to call from different numbers, which were of nine digits,” the SSP (ATS) said.
ATS officials said the “Major Yadav” either made Internet calls or used SIM box to call Ahirwar. The officials claimed no “Major Yadav” had been posted at Babina field firing unit since 2009. “He has claimed that he never verified why a major-rank officer used to call him directly to collect such information and why he had not been promoted since 2009. He confessed that he shared sensitive information with an unknown person without informing any senior official,” said Deputy Superintendent of Police (ATS) Manish Sonkar. “In the last three months, ‘Major Yadav’ had called Ahirwar twice. We are collecting details about the calls to ascertain the place of their origin. So far, we have not found any suspicious transaction in Ahirwar’s bank account,” said the SSP.