According to reports, Sub Inspector Vandana Rao was caught red handed when she was trying…
New Delhi,Azaan Javaid: Ranjith KK, the 30-year-old Indian Air Force official who was dismissed from service and arrested from an airbase in Punjab earlier this week, had allegedly passed on official secrets to a suspected intelligence operative.
According to Delhi police crime branch, the official had been compromised after falling prey to a honey trap set up by the suspected operative, Damini McNought, who posed as a journalist on Facebook.
The arrest, made during a combined operation by Delhi police, military intelligence and Air Force liaisoning unit (LU), is being considered another major breakthrough after an ISI-backed espionage network was busted in Jammu and Kashmir earlier this month.
Ranjith was posted in Bhatinda as an LAC (Leading Air Craftsman) before being dismissed on Monday. Bhatinda serves as a front line airbase near Pakistan border and has a very important surveillance unit, according to the officials. He is married and has a kid as well, said police.
“The accused joined IAF in 2010 and has served in other states as well. He was booked under official secrets act and produced in a city court which sent him to four-day police custody,” said Ravindra Yadav, joint commissioner of Delhi police (Crime).
Investigators told dna that Ranjith was contacted by Damini on Facebook nearly a year ago. Damini told Ranjith that she was working for a leading British magazine as a war correspondent and needed his help for a story she was working on.
“The suspect offered to transfer money into a bank account under Ranjith’s name. We are looking into recent transactions made towards that account,” said a senior police official. In exchange, Ranjith sent official secrets that included Air Force deployments, exercises and troop movements, he added.
Sources told dna that Rs30,000 transferred into the account of Ranjith from a foreign bank had tipped off the intelligence agencies.
The accused has disclosed that the alleged spy has a British accent, which was apparent in their conversations during later phase of their relationship, interrogators said.
Ranjith’s relationship with the suspected operative took a turn after the duo cosied up to each other. By this time Ranjith had been frequently talking to the suspected spy over WhatsApp and Viber.
“We cannot delve into the exact nature of the conversation. But it is believed that the alleged Intel operative had begun to blackmail the accused, threatening to publish the content he had sent her on social media,” an investigator told dna.
Delhi police are now trying to pinpoint the location of Damini. Her Facebook profile shows Leeds, United Kingdom as present address and has some others with military background too in friends’ list.
The Crime Branch had earlier busted a major espionage network involving officials of the armed forces. Five persons were arrested including personnel of Border Security Force and Rashtriya Rifles. With a second espionage case coming to fore, the Crime Branch is not ruling out the possibility of multiple espionage networks in Indian armed forces.