Delhi police question arrested IAF official to probe possible links to Pathankot attack

New Delhi(PTI): The Crime Branch of Delhi police today questioned Ranjith KK the 30-year-old Indian Air Force official who was arrested from Punjab’s Bhatinda airbase for allegedly passing information pertaining to IAF exercises, movement of aircraft and deployment of IAF units to a suspected intelligence operative.

Pathankot attack

Crime Branch officials told dna that the decision to question Ranjith was taken to ascertain if there was a direct link between Ranjith and the attackers of Pathankot airbase. According to Crime Branch Ranjith had allegedly passed information about Bhatinda air base, serves as a front line airbase near Pakistan border and has a very important surveillance unit. “We wanted to know if he was in possession of any information about Pathankot air base and whether he passed the same to the suspected intelligence operative,” said a senior Crime Branch official,

The official added that Ranjith denied giving out information about Pathankot air base which lies at a distance of around 280 kms from Bhatinda. The air base was attacked by militants resulting in the deaths of one Garud commando, five soldiers from the Defence Security Corps (DSC)and one Lt Colonel of NSG.

” He told his interrogators that the alleged intel operative never asked him about Pathankot. This could be because the operative knew that Ranjith was posted Bhatinda and could only give out information pertaining to the base where he was posted. But we are trying to verify if the operative asked about his previous postings as well. Another important task would be if the same operative had tried to contact others Indian air force officials posted elsewhere,” sources said.

Sources in crime branch told dna that Ranjith questioning comes after correspondence within state intelligence agencies following which security at the Bhatinda air base was stepped up.

“Immediately after the attack on Pathankot air base, the security at Bhatinda base was beefed up. Security agencies are not taking any chances even though the base lies at quite a distance from Pathankot,” the source said. A crime branch officials also told dna that the department was working on
“some leads” .

Ranjith was posted in Bhatinda as an LAC (Leading Air Craftsman) before being dismissed. 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.

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. Rajith allegedly had passed on critical sensitive information including air field markings through VOIP calls.