Pak agencies target jatha members

Amritsar, Punjab: Lure visiting Sikh youths into spying; man arrested from Amritsar recently spills the beans

Intelligence agencies in Pakistan are targeting unemployed youths in Sikh jathas visiting the country and luring them into spying. This came to light during the interrogation of a person arrested recently on the charges of spying.

The State Special Operation Cell (SSOC) and the counter intelligence wing of the Punjab Police had arrested local resident Tarwinder Singh from the Army Cantonment area on the Amritsar-Attari road. He was carrying a Pakistani SIM, photographs of restricted areas, Army manuals and handmade sketches of military installations.

Sources said several anti-social elements had visited Pakistan as part of a religious jatha in the recent past where they were contacted by officials of intelligence agencies who lured them into spying by promising them huge monetary rewards. In March 2009, the cell arrested five Pakistani spies, including an Army jawan. “At least four of them had visited Pakistan as part of a Sikh jatha. All of them were promised handsome financial rewards through Hawala transactions,” said a source.

As per the pact between the Indian and Pakistani governments, four religious jathas visit Pakistan every year on Baisakhi, martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev, death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.

Over 60 per cent of the Sikh jathas comprise SGPC members while the remaining are from other Sikh organisations.

SGPC secretary Tarlochan Singh said members of Sikh jathas who were to leave for Pakistan were scrutinised several times.

“First, our constituency in charge attests the identification of the devotees, then the Punjab and the Union Governments scrutinise every individual before one leaves for Pakistan,” he said.

Source: The Tribune

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