How the Indian Army’s Military Intelligence and Uttar Pradesh Police’s Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) unearthed a nefarious design in Karachi, Pakistan based ISI unit. Important thread on the OPERATION GORAKHDHANDA. Story of 51 year old Mohammed Arif and much more.
In June, Lucknow based Military Intelligence (MI) unit received an intel regarding suspicious activities of a Gorakhpur based cell from their counterparts in J&K. Lucknow MI unit sprung into action & found more on the suspect at Gorakhpur, Eastern UP city near Indo-Nepal Border.
Military Intelligence in Lucknow named the operation as 'Op Gorakhdhanda'. Subsequently they could discreetly corroborate the input, electronically identify the suspect as Mohammed Arif and detect his suspicious connections with Pakistan.
Anticipating the need of incorporating a specialised civilian agency in future, the MI unit shared all the findings with UP ATS in the first week of July and a joint team was formed to take the case to its logical conclusion.
Despite #COVID19 related restrictions in the state, detection of positive cases within the UP ATS, and preparation/alertness for #Ayodhya #RamMandir Bhoomi-Pujan (5th August) and Independence Day, the joint team kept monitoring the activities of the Gorakhpur based key suspect.
After sufficiently developing the case as per a plan the suspect, Mohammed Arif was confronted by a team of UP ATS last Friday and brought for questioning at the ATS HQ in Lucknow. The suspect was subjected to intense questioning by MI and UP ATS officials on Friday and Saturday.
Initially the suspect Mohammed Arif during his questioning denied to have committed any illegal or anti-national activities but he couldn't sustain the ignorance tactic because of skillful questioning for long and finally he broke down. He revealed the entire sequence of events.
Mohammed Arif born in a humble family studied till class 8th and tried his luck in multiple professions including handloom work, motor mechanic, tailoring. In Dubai as well. Presently he runs a tea-snacks stall in Gorakhpur. He was first married in 1995 and his wife died in 2014.
Arif has multiple relatives in Karachi. Two of his paternal aunts and their children including close cousin sister Hazara (and her husband Hashim Anasari) live in port city of Pakistan. He got his sister, Zarina married in Karachi to one Shahid who works in a watch-repair shop.
Mohammed Arif has visited Pakistan four times till now; in 2014, 2016, 2017 and his last visit being in December 2018 for various social needs. During the last visit, Arif had entered Pakistan through Jodhpur via the Thar Express.
Last time in Karachi, two Pakistani officials Fahad & Rana Aqeel paid a visit to his sister Zarina's house and introduced themselves as Visa officials who have come for verification. It is believed that the two were part of Pakistani Intel agency ISI operating under pseudo names.
After verification they came again and kept visiting Arif. They’d ask Arif to come out and chit-chat with them at a shop near Zarina's house. Arif's sister, his cousin and their husband had discouraged him from having friendship with the agents anticipating what it could lead to.
Arif continued his adventure. Agents pretended to be good friends and took Arif around the city in malls, beaches, restaurants. 10 days before Arif's return to India, Fahad & Rana took him to a lodge/safe-house and offered him services of a young and good-looking sex-worker.
Arif, who had lost his wife since 2014 couldn't resist the temptation and instantly accepted the offer. Jeans and T-shirt clad woman was very kind and made Arif live his fantasies in that closed room. Little did he know that his acts are being captured by multiple hidden cameras.
That night Arif returned to Zarina's house late and kept his adventure at the lodge a secret. ISI operatives, Fahad and Rana Aqeel insisted Arif to extend his stay in Pakistan after Arif had processed the documents for his departure back to India.
Arif returned to India in Feb 2019 on the scheduled date through Jodhpur. In their last meeting before Arif’s departure, ISI agents had handed him a chit with their "+92" number. After a few days of his arrival in Gorakhpur Arif received a call on WhatsApp from the same phone.
The caller, Fahad enquired about Arif's well-being and asked him to save his number. Arif saved the number as "Bhai" in his phone. After few days Fahad called again and asked him to send some photos of Zafra Buzzar in Gorakhpur with some innocent pretext.
Arif shared some photos within a few days. Fahad then asked him to send photos of Gorakhpur Air Force Station, which Arif declined, knowing the repercussions. Next ISI agent sent Arif photo/video of him and the sex-worker he had taken service of, on that fateful night in Karachi.
They blackmailed Arif to work for them or they’d send recordings to his sister Zarina. Arif reluctantly agreed & helped them in activating an Indian WhatsApp account by sharing account creation OTP. He had acquired the SIM using his own identity and took it off from his phone.
It is believed that WhatsApp account was used by ISI to approach serving defense/security personnel to lure them and acquire classified defence/security info. WhatsApp number has penetrated into & created many WhatsApp groups with serving soldiers/ security personnel as members.
Apart from this Arif during his questioning also revealed to have sent photos of Gorakhpur Railway Station and main gates of Indian Air Force Station and Kundra Ghat Military Station. He had received a payment of Rs 5000/- from the two Pakistani ISI agents.
Arif further revealed that he was asked by the two ISI agents to introduce some soldier/security-forces personnel or anyone having access to such establishment to them. Arif found it difficult to meet their demand and started avoiding them.
Subsequently Arif stoped using internet. Moreover he got remarried to his second wife Shama Praveen and wanted to lead a trouble-free life. Further he got his mobile handset formatted on 14th July this year as he claimed it got locked accidentally.
It was felt that he was not of much help to ISI and realized his wrongdoing well in time. Keeping in mind his age, family background, findings and absence of credible evidence to convict him in court, it was decided that Arif be left to go home after suitable counseling/warning.
This is a typical soft-neutralisation of an asset under cultivation by ISI. This case has unearthed the nefarious modus operandi of ISI operatives against members of poor or lower-middle class Muslim families visiting their relatives in various cities of Pakistan.
The case has some similarity with that of Mohammed Rashid's case who was arrested in a joint operation of Military Intellugence and UP ATS in February 2020. Presently the case is being investigated by the NIA.
Conclusion: What is more unique about the case is, in the times of fake encounters, fake recoveries and fabricated cases to meet the eyes of seniors and media houses, the agencies involved in this case didn't resort to any illegitimate means whatsoever to book Mohammed Arif.
Cops could’ve booked Arif a visibly expendable middle-aged man from poor Muslim family, under suitable acts to ensure a jail term that he probably deserved. This is a recommended case study for agencies on how not to get lured by the urge some refer as "case banao syndrome". ENDS