New Delhi: In a bizarre “psy ops”, suspected to be launched by Pakistani intelligence operatives, a fake death certificate by the ‘Municipal Corporation of Delhi’ is doing the rounds on social media, stating that a retired Lieutenant Colonel of the ISI died this month in NIA custody.
Sources in the security establishment told ThePrint that the certificate first emerged in Pakistani WhatsApp groups late Tuesday night.
While at first look, the certificate looks original, a closer examination reveals it is fake.
To begin with, Delhi has been incorrectly spelt as ‘Dehli’ and the name of Deputy Commissioner of Police, Special Cell, has been wrongly written as Rajiv Ranjan, who is actually the staff officer to the Delhi police commissioner. There is another Rajiv Ranjan in Delhi Police, who is the additional commissioner (crime).
“This is a psy ops launched by Pakistan’s ISI. It is totally bogus as no such certificate has been issued by the MCD,” a source in the security establishment told The Print.
The source added that it is laughable to even think that a death certificate would be issued for someone who just exists in Pakistani media reports.
According to Pakistani media reports, Lt Colonel (retired) Mohammad Habib has been untraceable since 6 April 2017 from Lumbini, a Nepalese town near the Indian border and a Buddhist pilgrimage site, soon after his arrival there.
What Pakistani media reported
The story about the disappearance of the former military officer first surfaced in WhatsApp groups of retired military officers and was subsequently picked up by the media.
Incidentally, the reports came just after Pakistan announced a death sentence for former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav, who was arrested on espionage charges.
Pakistani media even alleged that Habib had been abducted by Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) in retaliation to the death sentence given to Jadhav.
There are constant rumours that Habib could actually be in Indian custody, but no one has officially confirmed it. It has also been alleged that Habib could eventually be swapped for Jadhav.
When contacted, an NIA officer laughed it off and said he is hearing for the first time that the ‘so-called’ former ISI officer was in their custody.