Honey-trapped in Kolkata– Military Intelligence & STF Kolkata Joint Op

Last Friday, acting on credible intelligence provided by Military Intelligence, law enforcement apprehended a 36-year-old individual named Bhaktbanshi Jha from Bihar. Jha, who had fallen victim to a digital honey-trap, was found to be sharing sensitive military information with a Pakistani intelligence agency.

The operation was carried out by the Special Task Force (STF) based in Kolkata. In a preceding incident in October, Bhaktbanshi Jha, employed as a courier delivery person for a renowned international courier company in Delhi, encountered an individual (Pakistani Intelligence operative, PIO) through Facebook.

This individual, using the alias ‘Aarushi Sharma,’ established a virtual friendship with Jha. Their interactions began on the social media platform and gradually moved to the instant messaging application WhatsApp. Notably, ‘Aarushi Sharma’ employed a WhatsApp account registered with an Indian mobile number. Soon the two started exchanging sexually explicit messages and indulging in sexually-explicit acts over audio/ video calls. The two were exchanging such messages even till hours before his apprehension.

Pretending to gather information on behalf of her purported ‘Defense Journalist’ sister, ‘Aarushi’ convinced Bhaktbanshi to download an application called “Net Camera,” which attaches geographical coordinates to images taken using the app. Under ‘Aarushi’s’ direction, Bhaktbanshi captured several pictures of military installations in Delhi using this application in March. He subsequently shared these images with ‘Aarushi’ to assist her alleged ‘journalist sibling.’

Authorities involved in the case suspect that on multiple occasions, Bhaktbanshi engaged in conversations with a male official from a Pakistani intelligence agency, introduced to him as ‘Aarushi’s father.’It has also been revealed that ‘Aarushi’ and her alleged father instructed Bhaktbanshi to manage the creation of instant messaging application accounts by handling One-Time Passwords (OTPs) and pre-activated SIM cards for their use. On at least one instance, after relocating to Kolkata and joining a courier company there, Bhaktbanshi facilitated the father-daughter pair in setting up such an instant messaging account linked to an Indian mobile number.

Last Friday, Bhakt Banshi Jha, aged 36, was summoned to the premises of the STF (Special Task Force) within the Kolkata Police department for an inquiry initiated based on information provided by Military Intelligence. During the course of the investigation, a significant amount of confidential data, encompassing photographs, videos, online conversations, and more, was discovered on his mobile phone. Shockingly, he subsequently shared this sensitive information with the Pakistani Intelligence Operative (PIO).

Following the investigation, Bhakt Banshi Jha was apprehended at 06:10 PM from the Special Task Force office located at Ripon Street in Kolkata (Postal Code: 16). His direct involvement in activities detrimental to the nation’s security was established, leading to his arrest under relevant sections of the Indian Official Secrets Act and the Indian Penal Code. He is scheduled to appear before a local court on August 26, 2023.The STF in Kolkata, along with other pertinent agencies, is actively delving into the case to uncover all facets of Bhakt Banshi Jha’s connection with the Pakistani intelligence agency.

Additionally, efforts are underway to assess the extent of damage caused by his anti-national activities. The apprehension of Bhakt Banshi Jha is deemed a significant setback for the Pakistani intelligence agency, effectively thwarting any potential future loss of critical information with implications for national security.

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