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Honeytrap alert for forces

New Delhi: Good-looking Chinese and Pakistani girls could be used as honeytraps for "vulnerable" officers dealing with sensitive information on India's national security, the Intelligence Bureau has alerted the government.

The IB alert comes on the eve of Valentine's Day and against the backdrop of the arrest of a senior Indian Air Force officer for allegedly sharing classified information with a woman.

Sources in the intelligence agencies who interrogated Group Captain Arun Marwah, 51, said he had been honeytrapped online by Pakistani spy agency ISI through two Facebook accounts and WhatsApp. He has been booked under the Official Secrets Act and is in Delhi police's custody.

"Good-looking Chinese and Pakistani girls are being used to honeytrap officers of the armed forces by our enemies. An alert has been sounded to raise awareness among the defence forces so that officers don't fall prey to these traps," a senior IB official said.

Foreign intelligence agencies are suspected to be using English and Urdu-speaking women to snare Indian officers through social media.

These women mostly operate on porn sites, trap "vulnerable" officers and indulge in sex chats. In some cases, they send friend requests to officers on Facebook. Later, they exchange numbers and start chatting through Chinese-make smartphones. Later, these women allegedly blackmail the officers and force them to part with classified information.

According to records available with the Union home ministry, over the past four years 13 serving and retired defence personnel have been arrested for allegedly spying for the ISI or being part of its espionage racket.

Marwah, the IB official said, was honeytrapped by a woman suspected to be working for the ISI.

Marwah, posted at the air force headquarters in Delhi, had struck up a friendship with the woman on Facebook a few months ago. They allegedly exchanged phone numbers and chatted on WhatsApp. He is suspected to have shared some classified and highly sensitive information with the woman on WhatsApp.

"The woman had lured Marwah into sex chats. In exchange, he passed on classified information. We found nude photos of the woman and several objectionable conversations on his mobile phone," the IB official said.

In December 2015, Ranjith, another IAF official, was arrested by Delhi police on charges of sharing secret documents with ISI operatives. He had come in touch with a woman on Facebook while recovering from an illness in a military hospital.

The woman had sent a friend request on Facebook and both indulged in "dirty talk" at night. During conversations one night, Ranjith had passed on some classified information and later the woman started blackmailing him, saying she had recorded the chat.

Investigations had revealed that he had shared sensitive details of a base from where drones and airborne early warning and control systems are operated.

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