A carton containing smoke bombs was stolen from a special train carrying Army personnel, the police said today. The sensational matter came to light weeks after a Jhansi collectorate clerk, who was under the scanner of the Uttar Pradesh Police’s Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS), was booked for allegedly leaking information to suspected Pakistan-based spies, including those associated with the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
The train from Pulgaon in Maharashtra, which was on its way to Pathankot in Punjab, had stopped outside the Jhansi railway station yesterday when the Army personnel detected the seal of one of the coaches broken and a carton containing smoke bombs missing, Circle Officer (CO) Sharad Pratap Singh said here. A case in this regard had been lodged with the Government Railway Police (GRP) and an investigation was on, he said, adding that the incident was said to have taken place between Bina in Madhya Pradesh and the Jhansi railway station as the train had taken several brief halts while crossing the stretch.
Earlier this month, Raghavendra Ahirwar, a stenographer posted at the Jhansi collectorate, was booked under different sections of the Official Secrets Act (OSA) for allegedly passing on classified information about the movement of Army units at the Babina Cantonment to a “mysterious” caller who identified himself as “Major Yadav”. Ahirwar was under the UP ATS scanner for allegedly sharing information with suspected Pakistan-based spies. During the investigation, sleuths found out that “Major Yadav” used to make Internet calls to Ahirwar and had spoofed a local number through a SIM box.
The spy, who was interested in the details of the Army units that had reached the Babina Cantonment for firing practice, was reportedly in touch with Ahirwar since 2009. Ahirwar was never able to call “Major Yadav” back as the calls from the latter were always placed over the internet and only nine digits, instead of 10, flashed on his mobile screen. “Major Yadav” had reportedly told him that because of the confidential nature of his job, he was not authorised to receive phone calls.
Based on specific inputs, the ATS landed at Jhansi earlier this month and started keeping an eye on Ahirwar’s movements. The sleuths subsequently detained him for questioning and seized his cell phone, computer, hard disk and pen drive. The bank accounts of Ahirwar and his close relatives were also scanned to detect any “unusual” transaction. Ahirwar was not placed under arrest since no proof of money changing hands surfaced during the preliminary probe.
Inspector General (IG), ATS, Asim Arun said, “Passing on sensitive information to a mysterious person is a criminal offence. Ahirwar was not passing on secrets in exchange for money, but what he did was illegal. Sections 3, 4, 5 and 9 of the OSA were slapped against him and we will pursue the case.” With a massive firing range, Babina is among the most vital Army installations in the country, where hundreds of Army units practise with latest artillery. The Army authorities at the Babina Cantonment always marked the letters as “highly confidential” or “restricted information”, while exchanging inputs with the Jhansi collectorate, and Ahirwar had access to the communiques.
Ahirwar was posted at the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM), Sadar office from 2009 to 2017 and in June, he was transferred to the office of Jhansi Additional District Magistrate (Law) Pappu Gupta, where he was posted as a stenographer. The role of the other officials posted at the SDM office between 2009 and 2017 was also being probed, ATS sources said. According to the ATS, Ahirwar allegedly shared sensitive information about the movement and arms training of the Army establishment at the Babina Cantonment to the ISI, when he was posted at the SDM office.
Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Anand Kumar said, “An 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 the ISI is yet to be established.”