In a significant counter espionage operation, the Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) on Friday apprehended a retired Army soldier, based on input provided by Lucknow based Military Intelligence (MI) Unit. According to the information, Signalman Saurabh Sharma, an ex-serviceman, was working for a Pakistani intelligence agency since 2016.

The UP ATS took almost a month to track down and arrest the suspect. UP ATS and the military intelligence (MI) unit tracked down retired army soldier from his parental house, located in the Bihuni in Uttar Pradesh’s Hapur district.

The military intelligence had earlier received a tip about the involvement of the retired army signalman in espionage activities. After receiving the tip, the “Operation Cross-Connection” was initiated to trace the retired army personnel and arrest Saurabh Sharma.

The ex-serviceman was allegedly working for Pakistani intelligence handlers based in Karachi.

Sharma told his interrogators that he got in touch with a Pakistani intelligence operative on Facebook in 2014.

The operative, he said, initially introduced ‘herself’ as a defence journalist. Subsequently, by 2016, he had started sharing sensitive military information in return for money, the sources said.

Sharma shared all the sensitive information through text, audio and photo messages and also calls, mostly on WhatsApp. He allegedly received several payments from his Pakistani handlers.

The former serviceman was discharged from the Army in June 2020 on medical grounds. The sources said that proof of his activities have been found on his mobile phone too.

An FIR has been lodged at the Gomti Nagar police station in Lucknow against Sharma under Sections 120-B and 123 of the IPC, Sections 3, 4, 5 and 9 of the Official Secrets Act, and Section 13 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

The UP ATS is likely to seek his police custody from a local court for further investigation.

The Lucknow MI Unit, UP ATS and central intelligence agencies are jointly examining further leads in the case, the sources added.