New Delhi: A hawala operator and seven Indian Navy sailors based in Visakhapatnam, Karwar and Mumbai have been arrested for passing on “critical” information to Pakistan, in a case of entrapment on social media by agents posing as women interested in them.
The case was cracked by the Andhra Pradesh Police, working in close coordination with the naval and central intelligence agencies.
Navy sources told ThePrint that the seven sailors were arrested following sustained surveillance over the last few weeks, under operation ‘Dolphin’s Nose’. They said three of the sailors were arrested from Visakhapatnam, two from Karwar and two from Mumbai.
“They are very young sailors who were entrapped through fake Facebook accounts and subsequent chats,” a source said.
How they were entrapped
Sources said an ISI module specialising in such entrapment had reached out to the sailors last year. The messages shifted to chats on other social media platforms, including video. Later, they were introduced to a ‘businessman’ who was actually working for the ISI.
The sailors were blackmailed into giving out the positions and movements of warships and submarines on which they used to operate.
What began as blackmail quickly turned into monetary transactions, with the sailors being regularly paid by the ‘businessman’, who was actually a hawala operator acting on behalf of Pakistan.
How the case was cracked
ThePrint has learnt that the initial input in the case came from the Andhra Pradesh Police’s intelligence department, after which naval intelligence and central security agencies were roped in.
The sources said no other personnel are suspected to be part of this spy ring. However, the Navy is expected to issue a fresh advisory to all its personnel regarding their presence on social media.