LUCKNOW: A Lucknow court has sentenced ISI agent Aftab Ali, who was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorist Squad (UPATS) and Military Intelligence in 2017 for spying, to five years’ imprisonment.

Aftab was accused of sending information related to the Indian Army to an ISI handler in lieu of money.

After examining the evidence and the chargesheet submitted by the ATS, the special NIA court awarded a five-year sentence to Aftab and also imposed a penalty of Rs 4,800.

A senior ATS officer said that Aftab (in his late 20s) was arrested on May 3, 2017. “We got information that Aftab was in touch with the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi and used to pass on vital information to ISI handlers in Pakistan,” he said, adding that Aftab was charged for dishonesty, forgery for purpose of cheating and under relevant sections of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act and the Official Secret Act. “Through surveillance and from a mobile phone recovered from him, we collected evidence of his visit to Pakistan in 2016 and his training in Karachi. Aftab’s name had surfaced during questioning of a group of men arrested from Lucknow, Hardoi, and Sitapur for spying on military units in Jammu & Kashmir,” the officer said.

The ATS found that Ali had visited border towns in Punjab to film the movement of army troops. Besides chatting with an ISI agent, Meherban Ali, Aftab met an ISI handler in Pakistan and also received instructions from an individual posted in Pakistan High Commission in Delhi. ATS had also found evidence to prove that Aftab was constantly sending classified information to his Pakistani handlers when India conducted a surgical strike. “In early October 2016, some army units were moved to J&K and Punjab from the Central Command. While examining the convict’s phone, we found that he had passed on information about the number of army men and trains they had boarded,” the officer said.

ISI handler Meherban Ali interacted with Aftab before and after the surgical strikes. Meherban was among the group of six men who were pulled out of the Pakistan High Commission in November 2016 for being a part of an espionage ring.

Investigations revealed Aftab had gone to Pakistan on a valid visa in May 2014 on the pretext of visiting his ailing maternal grandmother. Prior to this, Aftab visa application had been rejected thrice and Meherban Ali lured him into the spying ring by promising him visa through his connections in the Pakistan High Commission.

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