A 51-year-old Gorakhpur-based resident was rescued by the Anti-Terrorists Squad from the ISI on the basis inputs of Lucknow-based Military Intelligence (MI) unit.
Mohammed Hanif (name changed) was honey- trapped by two Pakistani agents with the man being led to a Karachi brothel, where he was secretly filmed.
The pictures were subsequently used to blackmail him into sending “sensitive” information to Pakistani cellphone numbers on his return to Gorakhpur. The ISI sought information and images of the Gorakhpur railway station, the Indian Air Force station and the Kundra Ghat military station, besides instructions to penetrate the number of “WhatsApp group” of Indian soldiers in the city.
However, Indian agencies soon found out about the ISI plan and launched ‘Operation Gorakhdhanda’. The first input of suspicious activities of a Gorakhpur-based cell phone number had come from MI counterparts in Jammu and Kashmir. The Lucknow-based MI unit immediately sprung into action, closing in on Hanif in Gorakhpur.
The intelligence team discreetly corroborated the input, electronically identified the suspect as Mohammed Hanif, and detected his suspicious connections with Pakistan. The MI unit shared all the findings with Uttar Pradesh ATS in the first week of July and a joint team was formed to take the case to its logical conclusion.
However, after investigations, they found out how a humble tea seller, with relatives in Pakistan, was trapped into espionage for the enemy country.
Hanif was tapped in by the ISI after his visit from 2014 to 2018. The widower, in one of his last trips, was taken to a brothel, where he was filmed and subsequently blackmailed into sending pictures of sensitive locations in eastern city of Uttar Pradesh.
He runs a tea-snacks stall in Gorakhpur. He was married in 1995, and his first wife died in 2014. He has many relatives in Karachi. Two of his paternal aunts and their children, including a cousin and her husband, live in the port city of Pakistan. He had married off his sister, Zareen (name changed), in Karachi to one Iqbal (name changed), who works at a watch repairing shop.
After developing the case as per a plan, the suspect, Mohammed Hanif, was confronted by a team of Uttar Pradesh ATS on Friday and brought for questioning to the ATS headquarters in Lucknow. The suspect was subjected to intense grilling on Friday and Saturday. Initially, Mohammed Hanif denied to have committed any illegal or anti-national activities, however, he soon broke down and revealed the ISI plot to gain information.
Officials probing the case found out that during his last visit to Karachi, two Pakistani officials had visited his sister’s house and introduced themselves as visa officials, who had come for verification.