A BSF constable was arrested last week by Uttar Pradesh police for sharing sensitive information with a Pakistani ISI agent who posed as a “defence reporter”.
Achutyanand Mishra befriended the woman after he got a friend request on Facebook. To impress her, Mishra first sent photographs of himself posing with a service weapon, the police said.
After chatting with her on Facebook Messenger for a year, the woman asked for his WhatsApp number in December 2016. When Mishra received a WhatsApp message from a number whose first two digits were ‘+92’, he realised the trouble he had got into. 92 is the international country code of Pakistan. He saved the number as “Pakistani Dost”.
The person on the other end told Mishra that if he did not send regular information about his unit, he would inform the Intelligence Bureau (IB) about the pictures and videos sent earlier through Facebook Messenger. Instead of informing his seniors, Mishra continued to send whatever information was asked for till he was arrested on September 20.
Among other things, Mishra, who was posted in Tripura, had shared a video of his company commander’s briefing ahead of an operation.
He was attached with a senior who needed medical attention, and frequently visited the BSF Hospital at R.K Puram in New Delhi.
Officials said he had deleted his chat history but they have been able to retrieve evidence from his phone and Facebook account. Mishra was arrested after the Military Intelligence (MI) that was tracking his online activities tipped off the U.P police.
In the wake of Mishra’s arrest, the BSF has initiated a sensitisation drive for its men, and asked them to report such unusual “friend requests”.
“There exists a policy on use of phones by jawans. But with so many social media platforms in use, we are reiterating that sharing any kind of video or picture pertaining to the force will attract provisions of the Official Secrets Act,” a senior BSF officer said.
Aseem Arun, Inspector-General of U.P’s Anti-Terrorism Squad, said there were hundreds of instances when men in uniform were trapped through a similar modus operandi.
“It is quite rampant now, with the same modus operandi, the Pakistani ISI has trapped hundreds of people in uniform and as well civilians. The most common garb is that of a defence reporter. We even launched a helpline (9792103038) to help such people who have been trapped; we have received calls and are working on them,” Mr. Arun said.
A senior BSF official said it was not possible to prohibit the use of mobile phones as they are the only means to connect with families.