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Cleric’s soldier-son held on ISI suspicion

Behrampore, Jan. 4: A soldier from Murshidabad district has been detained in Jammu for suspected links with the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

“Habibur Rehman, 24, was picked up by the military police in Rajouri the day before yesterday. They informed us that he and his father were linked to the Pakistani agency,” an officer of the district intelligence branch said.

Habibur, a jawan serving in Jammu’s Rajouri sector, is a resident of Malihati village in the Salar police station area in the district. Intelligence sources here said a police team led by the circle inspector of Kandi, Surendranath Tudu, raided the jawan’s residence and searched it for over two hours yesterday afternoon. Police are also on the lookout for the jawan’s father, Abdur Rehman.

The district intelligence officer said both the father and the son’s houses in Malihati were searched, but refused to say if anything incriminating was recovered from there.

Habibur’s family is distraught as they have not heard from him for the past two days. “My elder brother got a job in the army’s signals division five years ago. He now stays in the army quarters in Rajouri with his wife, Beauty, and their only daughter. The last time I spoke to him over phone was Sunday,” said Hasibur Rehman.

“Yesterday, three cars carrying policemen suddenly surrounded our house and began searching. Every box, every trunk was searched and they spent over two hours going through papers and letters,” Hasibur narrated.

He said they were in the dark about the reasons behind the raid, and the police spoke to them only after they asked. “They told us on our face that my father and brother were working for the ISI and Habibur had already been arrested by the military. They said they were looking for incriminating evidence,” Hasibur said. The youth said his father was a cleric and was now in a mosque near Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh.

The intelligence branch sources said army sleuths homed in on the jawan after listening in to phone conversations between father and son. The conversations had been recorded, the sources said. The sleuths had gathered that both father and son worked in tandem to allegedly supply information to the ISI.

This is the fifth person from Murshidabad linked to the defence establishment to be picked up since November. The army and police intelligence opened a can of worms following the November 17 arrests of Ziauddin Biswas, his wife and three other men — all civilians and charged with working for the ISI.

After these arrests, police picked up air force data operator Aufan Ukil and the army’s Nazrul Islam. Two more men, Imdadul Mondol, formerly of the air force, and Sahadev Biswas, an ex-armyman, were arrested later from villages close to the border in the Jalangi area of the district.

The police and army have claimed that Ziauddin used to “recruit” defence personnel to gather information from the bases and used the retired persons to gain access into vital installations.

The police also claim to have specific information that Ziauddin had been to the Pakistani Embassy in Dhaka to meet ISI officials, identified as Aamir and Bhaisaab.

At present, the police are on the lookout for Saifur Biswas, a close associate of Ziauddin. Biswas’ house here has been sealed by the police.

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