Espionage racket: ITR security chief questioned

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Espionage racket: ITR security chief questioned

Saturday, 18 September 2021 | Ubachak Mohanty | BALESWAR

Even as a National Investigation Agency (NIA) investigation team arrived to probe the spy ring at the Defence Research and Development Organisation’s (DRDO) Integrated Test Range (ITR) in Chandipur in Baleswar district, officials of the NIA and the State Crime Branch met the Baleswar SP on Friday.The Chief Security Officer of DRDO was also at the Eastern Range IG office and questioned. However, the NIA officials have declined to comment at the investigations are at a preliminary stage. The NIA team came a day after the Crime Branch took over the espionage investigation from the local police.

The agency would unearth information from the five arrested persons who reportedly leaked sensitive Defence secrets suspected to be Pakistani ISI agents, after being honey-trapped. The NIA would try to ascertain the mastermind of the espionage racket and whether  he is  reporting to any foreign handler.

So far, five persons have been arrested on charges of leaking sensitive information to foreign agents. The four accused Basanta Behera (52), Hemanta Kumar Mistri (52), Tapas Ranjan Nayak (41) and Sk Musafir (32) were earlier arrested in connection with the case.However, the fifth accused arrested is a permanent staffer who worked as the driver of a top official of the ITR. The accused, Sachin Kumar Chatta, who hails from Uttar Pradesh, is a driver of the ITR Director. He was living in the ITR Colony.

He was sent to judicial custody after the court rejected his bail plea. It is suspected that Sachin passed secret information to the four other accused, who shared the data with Pakistani agents for monetary benefits. But  was yet to be ascertained the source from where Sachin got the secret information. The involvement of some higher officials at the testing range cannot be ruled out at this stage.

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