The Rajasthan Police on Monday arrested two civil defence employees in Jaipur on espionage charges, the Hindustan Times reported. The police alleged that Vikas Kumar, 29, and Chimal Lal, 22, who work at the Army Ammunition Depot in Sri Ganganagar district in Rajasthan, had been passing information on to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency.

The police arrested the suspects based on inputs from Military Intelligence. “Both the accused were found sharing confidential information with Pakistan’s intelligence agency,” Additional Director General of Police (Intelligence) Umesh Mishra said. “Both were arrested under relevant sections of Official Secrets Act, 1923. Further investigation is on.”

An unidentified senior police officer said that Military Intelligence knew about Kumar’s activities since last August. “On further investigation, the MI Lucknow came to know that Vikas Kumar was cultivated by a Pakistani intelligence operative using a Facebook profile in the garb of ‘Anoshka Chopra’ being run from Multan by a young Pakistani woman,” the police officer said. He alleged that Kumar had been sharing confidential military information related to Order of Battle, ammunition, units coming for firing practice, personality traits of senior army officers etc for money.

Military Intelligence shared the case with Uttar Pradesh Police’s Anti-Terror Squad in January this year. The two groups carried out a joint exercise called Operation Desert Chase to monitor Kumar’s activities and nab him. “During surveillance, it was found that Kumar is acquiring photos of a water distribution register at a water point, pump house in MFFR [Mahajan Field Firing Range, close to the Pakistan border] through a contractual civil employee named Chiman Lal,” the police officer said.

The operation, halted due to the lockdown imposed to combat the coronavirus, was resumed in May after Military Intelligence shared the case with the intelligence wing of the Rajasthan Police. The police officer said the joint teams of the Uttar Pradesh ATS and Military Intelligence detected passage of more information to Pakistan, as well as payments made to the accused. Subsequently, they were arrested on Monday.

The police claimed that Vikas Kumar confessed to being trapped by a Pakistani profile named “Anoshka Sharma” early last year, India Today reported. He said they became very friendly, shared their WhatsApp numbers and started chatting and making audio and video calls.

The profile claimed she was working with the Canteen Store Department headquarters in Mumbai. Kumar joined several WhatsApp groups at her request. All these groups had several serving defence and civil defence employees as members.

Later, “Anoshka Sharma” introduced Kumar to her “boss”, Amit Kumar Singh, who was her handler using a fake name. Once Vikas Kumar began to converse with Singh, “Anoshka Sharma” blocked him from her Facebook and WhatsApp, the police said. By April 2019, the handler convinced Vikas Kumar to send him military information in exchange for money.

This is not the first case of alleged spying that has recently come to light. On May 31, the Centre said two officials of the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi were caught spying and have been asked to leave India within 24 hours. The two officials were identified as Abid Hussain and Muhammad Tahir. The Delhi Police Special Cell apprehended the alleged spies from Karol Bagh area.