Bhubaneswar/Balasore, Sept 16 (PTI) A day after the CID, Crime Branch of Odisha Police took over the probe into allegations of leaking defence secrets by employees of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur to a foreign agent, the National Investigating Agency (NIA) Thursday pitched in to ascertain the matter.
A two-member NIA team reached Chandipur in Balasore district to find out details of the case in which five persons have been arrested so far on charge of passing sensitive defence information to a Pakistani agent, a senior police officer said.
The ITR is a laboratory of the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) which provides launch facilities for performance evaluation of rockets, missiles and air-borne weapon system.
While four contractual employees of the ITR at Chandipur in Balasore district were arrested on Tuesday, the police Thursday nabbed Sachin Kumar, a driver and permanent staff of the DRDO.
Kumar, a resident of Uttar Pradesh and residing in the ITR colony, was allegedly helping the four accused in providing information to the Pakistani agent.
“Sachin Kumar was produced in the SDJM court. Yesterday four accused were arrested and sent to judicial custody after their bail petitions were rejected. Sachin Kumar is from Uttar Pradesh and staying in the ITR staff quarter. He is engaged as a driver in the ITR,” government pleader Gayatri Das told reporters.
A special Investigating Team headed by Prasanta Bisoi, Additional S.P. from CID CB Odisha, Cuttack has been leading the investigating into the matter after registering a case under sections of the Official Secrets Act.
On Tuesday, the Odisha Police had arrested four contractual employees of DRDO from the ITR facility in Chandipur for allegedly leaking secrets to a Pakistani agent.
The accused persons were – AC operator Basanta Behera (52), diesel genset operator Hemanta Kumar Mistri (52), employee on duty at ITR main gate Tapas Ranjan Nayak (41), and AC operator Sk. Musafir (32),– all from Balasore district.
The police also claimed that the accused persons had interaction with a woman over Whatsapp and Facebook since one year before they were caught on charge of espionage.
However, the accused persons denied receiving any gratification in order to pass information from the ITR.
Balasore SP Sudhansu Sekhar Mishra had said, ”We cannot rule out the possibility (of a honey trap) at this stage. Investigation is on.” Police said social media accounts of the accused including Facebook and WhatsApp and phone call details are being investigated.
Earlier, one Iswar Behera, a contractual photographer of ITR was arrested on espionage charges in 2015 and is currently serving life imprisonment following his conviction in February this year.