The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Friday arrested a Mumbai businessman for his alleged key role in the Vizag Espionage Case, in connection to which 11 Indian Navy personnel were arrested last year.
Mohammed Haroon Haji Abdul Rehman Lakdawala, the key accused, was arrested from his home in Dongri area, Mumbai after the NIA received information that he had deposited money into the accounts of Navy personnel following the instructions of certain Pakistanis in Karachi.
The case had come to light in November, 2019 after Andhra Pradesh Police busted an espionage racket that involved Navy officials and some Pakistani spies. According to the investigation, the Navy personnel were honey trapped on social media to divulge sensitive information about Indian defence establishment and Naval infrastructure. Few Navy personnel came in contact with Pakistani nationals through social media platforms such as Facebook, Whatsapp etc, and were involved in sharing classified information in lieu of monetary gains, the NIA said.
“The money was deposited into the bank accounts of the Navy personnel through Indian associates having business interests in Pakistan,” the NIA statement said.
A Pakistan-born Indian woman Shaista Qaisar has also been arrested by the NIA in the case.
“The investigation revealed that Haroon had visited Karachi, Pakistan on many occasions to meet his handlers under the guise of conducting cross-border trade. During these visits, he came in contact with two Pakistani spies namely Akbar alias Ali and Rizwan, who directed him to deposit money into the bank accounts of Navy personnel at regular intervals. This was done through different modes,” the NIA said in a statement.
Sources said Haroon’s wife hails from Karachi and he has been visiting the port city since he was 12-years-old, adding his daughter resides there too. The NIA conducted many search operations at Haroon’s Mumbai house and seized several “digital devices and incriminating documents”.
Providing details of the case, the NIA statement read, “The case relates to an international espionage racket involving individuals based in Pakistan and at different locations in India. Pakisatn based spies recruited agents in India for collecting sensitive and classified information regarding locations/movements of Indian Naval Ships and Submarines, and other defence establishments.”