Operation Desert Chase explained Pakistani spies caught in Rajasthan

Operation Desert Chase

• The Operation was an anti-espionage operation run by the Military Intelligence of Army for over a year.

• 2 civil defence employees who were selling information to Pakistan’s intelligence agencies were nabbed under this operation.

• On 8th June 2020, a joint team of Rajasthan Police, Intelligence and MI Lucknow orchestrated the arrests

• The work on the operation began in August 2019, when the MI Lucknow learnt about an espionage agent near Sri Ganganagar (Raj.)who was passing military information to his handlers in Pakistan.

• The individual was identified as Vikas Kumar — a civil defence employee at an army ammunition depot near Sri Ganganagar.

• Further, it was found that Vikas was getting info from Chiman Lal , a civil contractual employee of the army’s Mahajan Field Firing Range (MFFR), Bikaner.
Both the locations are strategically sensitive since Ammunition Depot and MMFR are important military installations on the western front of the country.

Modus Operandi

• Vikas Kumar was first lured by a Pakistani intelligence operative using a Facebook profile in the garb of “Anoshka Chopra”

• Later he was added to multiple Whatsapp groups.
• Then put in touch with a senior handler, who convinced
Vikas to send info in lieu of money.

What kind of info did they send?

• Chiman (at MFFR) used to regularly send photos of “water-distribution-register” kept at one of the pump houses of MFFR with details of army number, rank, name, unit, total strength and quantity of water drawn on almost daily basis.

• Vikas kumar sent this info to his handler
Vikas had also allegedly passed information about

(a) details of ammunition to his depot this included type and quantity

(b) ORBAT (Order of Battle; composition and order of a military fighting formation), of two local army brigades and all changes in them which he could notice

(c) Surveillance of some senior Army officers, their names and personality traits and

(d) Photos of arms, ammunition, tanks, other military vehicles at MFFR.

The Money

• Vikas was receiving payments in three of his and his brother’s bank accounts.
• 75,000 rs total payments

Official Secrets Act 1923

• It was enacted in 1923 and was retained after Independence.
• This law is applicable to government servants and citizens and provides the framework for dealing with espionage, sedition, and other potential threats to the integrity of the nation.

• The law (Official Secrets Act 1923) makes spying, sharing ‘secret’ information, unauthorised use of uniforms, withholding information, interference with the armed forces in prohibited/restricted areas etc. punishable offences.
• If proven guilty, a person may get up to 14 years’ imprisonment or a fine, or both.
• The other countries that use Official Secrets Act include Hong Kong, UK, Myanmar, Singapore and Malaysia.

Operation Desert Chase Operation Desert Chase