Four, including two minors, booked for ‘spying’ in Kutch

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Incidentally, Gujarat Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) had arrested two residents of Kutch in October 2016 for allegedly spying for Pakistani spy agency ISI. (Representational Image)

Around five weeks after they allegedly clicked pictures of a Kutch defence installation's prohibited areas, two youths were arrested and two juveniles picked up by the police on Sunday. The four have been booked under the Official Secrets Act (OSA), 1923.

The offence under the OSA and under relevant sections of the IPC was registered at Naliya police station late on Wednesday. The two men were formally arrested by the Kutch (west) police on Sunday, while the two juveniles are being questioned. They will be produced before a juvenile justice board.

The men have been identified as Mamad Rafiq Latif Hajam (23) and Arbaz Ismile Sumra (20). Officers said both the minors are 17 years old.

The accused have been booked under OSA Sections 3 (Spying) and 9 (Attempt, incitement to commissioning of an offence shall be treated as if one had committed the offence) and IPC Sections 120-b (Criminal conspiracy) and 123 (Concealing with intent to facilitate design to wage war).

Defence personnel had spotted the four clicking photographs of a prohibited zone in a defence asset in Abdasa taluka of Kutch on January 29. Officers said the four had climbed atop a cottage on a farm belonging to one of the minor's family, and were shooting the prohibited zone when the guards spotted them and reported the matter to the police. Two cameras and four smartphones were recovered from them.

"After the incident was reported, we filed a non-cognisable offence and the Special Operation Group (SOG) initiated an inquiry. We came to the conclusion that an FIR should be registered for thorough investigation. The kind of photographs and information they were gathering is highly suspicious — they had no valid answers for it," Superintendent of Police of Kutch (west), Saurabh Tolumbi, told The Indian Express.

The SP said that during the pendency of the inquiry, police officers kept a watch on the accused's movements.
AR Zala, in-charge police inspector of SOG of Kutch (west), said that Hajam is a resident of Reliya in Manjal village and runs a hair salon in nearby Kothara. Similarly, Sumra is a resident of Bukera Faliya in Naliya, the headquarters of Abdasa taluka, and works in a shop selling mobile phone handsets.

"The four are friends and claimed they are fond of photography, which is why they had professional cameras," said Zala, investigating officer of the case. "Probe will ascertain if the four had any contacts with Pakistan and if they had shared any sensitive information."

Before this, in October 2016, two residents of Kutch had been arrested for allegedly spying for Pakistan's Inter Service Intelligence (ISI). Alana Hamir Sama and Shakoor Sumara, apprehended by Gujarat Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS), have been chargesheeted and are facing trial at a district and sessions court of Bhuj.