A havildar of an artillery regiment is facing a General Court-Martial (GCM) after the Military Intelligence nabbed him for providing classified military information to a Pakistani agent posing as a woman on Facebook and Whatsapp social media platforms. Havildar Sanjay Kumar Yadav of 10 Medium Artillery Regiment, which is part of the Jhansi-based 31 Armoured Division, has been attached in 654 EME Battalion under 54 Infantry Division (RAPID) in Secunderabad for the court martial proceedings. Highly placed sources inform that the trial formally began on November 11.
The Commanding Officer of an infantry battalion has been appointed the presiding officer of the court martial with six other Army officers as members. The GCM is currently examining an officer of the Military Intelligence who is believed to have exposed the espionage racket.
Senior officers familiar with the case said that the intelligence branch got a tip-off that the Havildar was in constant touch with a woman on Facebook as well as Whatsapp. Since there are strict instructions regarding using social media platforms, the Army authorities started keeping an eye on his activities and later it was found that some unaccounted cash was also deposited in his bank account.
“We learnt that a Pakistani agent was posing as a woman and indulging in sexually explicit chat with this jawan which included exchange of photographs. Further investigation revealed that an amount of Rs 1,38,000 had been deposited in his account in Bank of Baroda over a period of time from unknown sources and that the first such deposit was for an amount of Rs 8,000,” said an officer who did not want to be named. It is believed that the havildar was in touch with the Pakistani agent for a period of around nine months before he was detected.
Among the information that the havildar is accused of having passed on is the location of various units and the names and official appointments of certain officers in key positions. Sources in Army say that the involvement of other Army personnel in this case could not be ruled out though for the present there is only a confessional statement by the accused which is helping in his prosecution.
There have been several instances in the recent past in which serving military personnel have been found to have passed on sensitive information after falling for honeytraps on Facebook. Two Indian Air Force personnel were arrested in Bathinda and Pathankot in 2014 and 2015, respectively, after it was found that they were in touch with Pakistani agents who posed as women and lured them through fake profiles.
The Indian Express had earlier reported in July 2015 that the Military Intelligence had sounded warnings that fake profiles were being used on social networking sites in order to entice serving personnel and to extract confidential information from them which included the Order of Battle (ORBAT) of key strike formations. The Army had also found on an earlier occasion that three serving officers had passed on some information about units to a fake profile of ‘Simran’ on Facebook. Following this, strict guidelines have been issued giving out the manner in which social media is to be accessed and the precautions to be taken while interacting on them.