This spy story is getting heady. Arun Selvarajan, the suspected ISI agent from Colombo arrested by National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Tuesday in Chennai, had sneaked into the Officers Training Academy (OTA) in the city posing as a bartender in August 2009.
Before he launched an event management firm in Chennai, Selvarajan has confessed to the interrogators, he visited OTA for a recce, disguising himself as a bartender at a dinner for Army officers.
For the get-together in 2009, OTA had given the bartending contract to a star hotel in Chennai. NIA officials said Selvarajan tagged along a friend who worked in the star hotel for the officers’ party. “He served drinks and managed to take some photographs of senior officers in the academy, using a pen camera. He downloaded these photographs and sent them to his handler called Shaji in Sri Lanka. Shaji worked for the Pakistan high commission in Sri Lanka.
Officers said Selvarajan, however, was not revealing more information about the night. “We need to question him further about his suspected role in India,” an investigating officer said. NIA officials have sought seven days custody of the suspected ISI operative. The petition will be taken up for hearing on coming Monday.
Investigators have sent six mobile phones, a laptop, four hard disks, an iPad, a 1TB portable drive and three pen drives to the cyber wing. “We are trying to retrieve data from the devices which he had tried to wipe off the contents. So far we haven’t found any photographs that he is suspected to have taken at OTA. They could be in the laptop or iPad,” a senior police officer said.
Sources said Selvarajan was recruited by Pakistan official in Colombo Amir Zubair Siddiqui. He was being handled by Shaji after Siddiqui was called back to Pakistan following protest from Sri Lanka over his activities. NIA officials said Siddiqui and Shaji promised Selvarajan protection and money in exchange of critical information about Indian installations.
“Selvarajan had discontinued his schooling in Sri Lanka and joined an international residential school near Poonamallee in Chennai. He sent his Sri Lankan passport to his friend in Colombo to renew his visa,” the officer said. Later he floated an event management company to gain access to many important places in and around Chennai.