Cuttack: A three-member Indian Air Force (IAF) team has also started investigating the alleged espionage at the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur in Balasore district.
Earlier, the Odisha Crime Branch had arrested five persons for allegedly passing classified information on BrahMos missile to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
The five accused include a permanent employee and four contractual staff at the ITR. Crime Branch took them in remand for seven days to interrogate them on September 18.
Sources said the IAF officials carried out a marathon interrogation of the accused at the Crime Branch headquarters in Cuttack on Monday.
The sources also said Crime Branch has collected vital information on their links with Pakistani agents, financial transactions and involvement of other persons in this case.
According to Crime Branch insiders, the five accused had come in contact with ISI agents through Facebook. An ISI handler in Uttar Pradesh was in charge of the whole operation. The five accused used to get phone calls from Pakistan and receive money from UP.
The interrogation of the five accused has further revealed that the UP-based ISI handler from Uttar Pradesh used to direct them to pass on specific information over the phone.
A Crime Branch officer revealed that the accused also received money from a sleeper cell (a group of ultras that remains inactive for a long period) in the country.
“As we suspect the involvement of Bangladeshi refugees who are living in an area near the ITR, we have directed the bank authorities concerned to provide detailed information on the financial transactions of the accused. The exact amount of money received by the accused from UP and through the sleeper cell will be known after we get the details of their bank accounts,” the official said, requesting anonymity.
Referring to the IAF’s interrogation, the official said the accused have confessed to passing information the target range of different missiles test-fired from the ITR launch pad, ordnance depo and the exact location of the launch pad to the ISI handler.
“Since the Crime Branch has no knowledge about the operation of missiles, the IAF has been requested to probe into this angle,” he pointed out.
After their arrival in Cuttack, the IAF team had a meeting with Crime Branch’s Additional SP Prashant Kumar Bisoyi. The team later interrogated the accused about the information on the missiles they have recorded on their mobile phone.
Sources said that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) will take up the investigation after the evidence of the link of the five accused with the ISI handler in UP is established.