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Sunday, July 25, 2021

The curious case of Han Junwe, the Chinese intruder arrested in West Bengal

A 36-year-old Chinese national Han Junwe was apprehended by the BSF along the India-Bangladesh border without valid documents. Who is he, and how did he enter India? Is he a Chinese spy?

Written by Sweety Kumari , Edited by Explained Desk | Kolkata |
Updated: June 27, 2021 8:27:31 am
Han Junwe was apprehended by the BSF at Border Out Post Malik Sultanpur in Malda district.

West Bengal shares a 2,216.7-km border with Bangladesh, a large portion of which is unfenced. It is common for Border Security Force (BSF) to catch Bangladeshis trying to enter Bengal illegally.

What is not so common is the case of the 36-year-old Chinese national Han Junwe, who was apprehended by the BSF along the India-Bangladesh border without valid documents.

The incident has raised several questions. Han is being interrogated by security agencies currently.

How did the Chinese intruder enter India?

Han was apprehended by the BSF at Border Out Post Malik Sultanpur in Malda district.

He had crossed the India-Bangladesh international boundary and had, upon being challenged by the BSF, started to run. He was chased and caught, and was brought to Border Out Post Mohadipur for questioning.

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What did the man have with himself?

A stash of electronic communication equipment was found on Han. He was carrying an Apple laptop and two iPhones; two Chinese SIMs and a Bangladeshi and an Indian SIM; two pen drives; two small torches and three batteries; and five money transaction machines.

He was also carrying two Mastercard ATM cards, and some United States dollars, Bangladeshi taka, and Indian rupees.

So is Han Junwe a Chinese spy?

According to investigating agencies, “he looks well trained”, and is fluent in English. Given the kind of electronic devices he was carrying, there is a strong possibility that he was a spy working for a Chinese agency, investigators said.

He had two visas in his passport, one for Bangladesh, and the other for Nepal. According to official sources, Han appears to have concluded that Bangladesh shares a porous border with Bengal, and that it would be easier for him to enter India from Bangladesh.

“He had a visa for Nepal, but seems to have decided to give priority to Bangladesh. The investigation definitely shows that this case is more about security-related issues than cyber fraud of some kind. There are a lot of documents that prove he was trying to establish himself in India. He was already on the radar of the ATS in Lucknow,” an official said.

According to officials, Han had tried to throw his BSF interrogators off-track by feeding them information that appeared to establish that he was in India to carry out small cyber crimes. However, a lot of discrepancies were found in his statements, the officials said.

Why is the arrest significant?

Officials said Han claimed he had entered India for trade; however, his real motives appear to have been more sinister.

Han was also in possession of some suspicious bank documents, officials said. “These documents were found three days after his arrest by the BSF. He had thrown them away as soon as the BSF started to chase him, an official told The Indian Express.

Han had allegedly supplied nearly 1,300 Indian SIMs to China over the last one and a half years. The possibility of him being part of an effort to carry out a cyberattack against government websites, security agencies, and Indian businesses cannot be ruled out, a senior BSF official said.

But if he had come to India earlier, what was he doing this time?

Han has been to India several times earlier, officials said. The passport that he was carrying, however, had only one stamp — that of Bangladesh. It is likely that he used a different passport on his earlier visits, officials said.

The purpose of his visit to India has not been established yet. Han has been telling interrogators that “he was here (in India) on business”. He has already been questioned by the BSF, NIA, and the Malda police, and is now being investigated by the Special Task Force (STF) of the West Bengal Police.

“Clearly, he wasn’t here just on ‘business’,” an official close to the investigation said. After his interrogation by the Bengal STF, Han’s custody may be handed to the UP ATS, officials said.

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