Odisha Police Crime Branch gets 7-day custody of 5 accused in DRDO espionage case
The contractual employees -- identified as Basanta Behera 52, Hemanta Kumar Mistri 52, Tapas Ranjan Nayak 41 and Sk Musafir 32 were arrested on September 13.
A court in Odisha on Saturday remanded the five accused in the espionage case at the DRDO's Integrated Test Range (ITR) in Balasore district to seven days in the custody of the Crime Branch of the state police.
The Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate's court in Balasore awarded the custody of the accused people to the Crime Branch after earlier rejecting their bail petitions.
The Odisha Police had nabbed the five ITR employees on September 13 and 16 for allegedly passing on vital information from the establishment of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to a Pakistani spy in lieu of money.
The possibility of a honey trap was also suspected as the accused people were in touch with a woman through social media and also received financial gratification from her.
The money from their ISI handler based in Uttar Pradesh was deposited in the accounts of four Bangladeshi refugees living near the defence establishment, Crime Branch sources said. The contractual employees -- identified as Basanta Behera (52), Hemanta Kumar Mistri (52), Tapas Ranjan Nayak (41) and Sk Musafir (32) – were arrested on September 13. Sachin Kumar alias Chhata, a permanent staffer working as a driver, was nabbed on September 16.
As the ISI handler was operating from Uttar Pradesh and Sachin being a native of the northern state, the Crime Branch suspects that there is a closer connection between them, and the ITR driver might have also recorded the conversations of senior DRDO officials and passed on the information to the Pakistani agent.
Meanwhile, a two-member team of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) came to Chandipur from Kolkata and interrogated Anurag Sen, the ITR chief security officer, for over two hours in the presence of Inspector General of Police (Eastern Range) Himanshu Kumar Lal at the latter's office on Friday.
Sanjeev Panda, Additional Director General of Police of the Crime Branch said, ''The accused people have been brought on remand to extract more information about their activities and collect evidence with regard to their alleged act of espionage. We are probing different angles.'' Responding to a query, he said, ''The NIA is not investigating the case but we may take their assistance if required.'' PTI COR AAM ACD ACD
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