Army man takes Pakistan spy bait, arrested for espionage

HYDERABAD (TIP): Indian Army Naib Subedar Patan Kumar Poddar became the victim of his carnal desires and greed for money. The 40-year-old Poddar,who was posted at 151 MC/MF detachment at the Secunderabad railway station, was on Wednesday arrested by the Hyderabad police for espionage. Poddar,who is from Malda district in West Bengal, passed on vital information to a female Pakistani spy since last July.

In return for his bits of information, the spy deposited money at regular intervals in his account, entertained him with her nude videos and even promised an all-expenses paid trip to London. During interrogation, Poddar told the central crime station (CCS) and Army officers that he came in contact with ‘Anushka Agarwal’,who claimed to be from Jhansi town in Uttar Pradesh, via Facebook last year and she introduced herself as an MSc student. The woman told Poddar her father, reportedly a retired IAF commander, ran an NGO for the UN in Jhansi.

Dropping hints that she was attracted to Poddar, Anushka gave him an offer to work for their NGO by doing online surveys about the Indian Army for a monthly payment of Rs 10,000. Last July, Anushka deposited Rs 9,000 in Poddar’s SBI account at Mangalbari branch in Malda. As instructed by her, he filled an online form mentioning his professional, personal details and emailed it to her along with a photograph. After that Anushka started calling Poddar on his cellphone and collected the telephone numbers of 50 movement control offices (MCOs) across the country. In August 2013, the Pakistan spy deposited Rs 20,000 in Poddar’s account.

She also trained Poddar in accessing emails through a proxy to avoid detection. As per Anushka’s request, the naib subedar provided her details of the movement of Indian Army units in the Western sector. He also gave her details about the movement of the 96 Field Regiment and 10 Medium Regiment from Secunderabad to Jodhpur and about their exercises. “I also provided her details about the army’s train demand whenever any unit was about to move from Secunderabad,” Poddar said in his confession. On the instructions of the spy, Poddar installed a Trojan (virus software) on his official computer, enabling Anushka to remotely access the system.

Anushka asked Poddar to click photographs of the missile unit and storage unit, and provide ‘formation sign’ in Secunderabad, but the latter could not do it due to lack of access. With the money provided by Anushka, he purchased a secondhand laptop and started using it for communicating with her. Poddar subsequently received Rs 15,000 in November 2013 and provided Anushka with details of 12 army units, their brigade names and deployment locations. Anushka then gave a list of army units deployed on the western border to Poddar to corroborate, and the latter confirmed the same to her over the phone.

This year, Poddar received Rs 30,000 in two installments for providing details about the location of artillery regiments, commands, army bases, corps, division headquarters and brigades through a common email account. Anushka also promised to send Poddar on a London trip, but he was caught before it could materialise. According to police sources, Anushka lured Poddar initially by sending him her naked photographs. Later, she got him completely under her spell by sending him nude videos and nude video chats. Central intelligence sleuths had gathered information that ‘Anushka Agarwal’ was a fake identity on Facebook. The spy had managed to get in touch with several military personnel.

The sources revealed the woman in the videos was not the actual spy and her handler was untraceable due to the proxies used in communicating with Poddar. “Anushka used to communicate with Poddar over the phone through Voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP) applications,” a police official said. “We have seized three cellphones, 10 SIM cards, three data cards, a pen drive, a card reader and two computers from the possession of the erring subedar. He will be taken into custody for further probe.” Before he was posted in Secunderbad, Poddar had worked with artillery units in Jammu & Kashmir and Jodhpur.

He also worked for the Military Intelligence Unit. However, his cross-border communication and practice of accessing military information attracted the attention of the intelligence agencies. So, he was under the surveillance of the Intelligence Bureau, Counter Intelligence Cell, Military Intelligence and the Multi Agency Centre (MAC) for the past seven months. The sources revealed Poddar used to spend long hours alone during the night at the military booking counter at the Secunderabad railway station to chat with Anushka using his personal laptop and data card since social networking sites are blocked on the Army network.

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