The Ahmedabad crime branch today arrested three persons for allegedly setting ablaze seven shops in the city as part of a larger conspiracy of Pakistan’s spy agency ISI to spread terror by luring unsuspecting petty criminals in need of money, officials said.
They have been charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code for waging war against the government and provisions of the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), they told news agency Press Trust of India.
An unidentified ISI agent, without revealing his true identity or motive, had allegedly lured the three men to set the shops on fire here in Gujarat as part of the ISI’s plans to spread terror, jeopardise internal security and cause economic losses to India, the police told news agency PTI.
Those arrested have been identified as Bhupendra Vanzara, Anil Khatik and Ankit Pal, they said.
Ankit Pal was admitted to hospital under police protection as he had tested positive for COVID-19.
As directed by the ISI handler, who used to identify himself as Baba Bhai and has several Facebook profiles with similar names, the three accused set ablaze seven cloth shops in Kalupur area here on the night of March 20, Additional Commissioner of Police (Crime) Premvir Singh told reporters.
“After the incident, we received intelligence inputs that the shops were deliberately set on fire by some men at the behest of the ISI. Following a detailed probe into the matter, we caught the three men,” he told news agency Press Trust of India.
“The three accused received Rs 1.5 lakh from the ISI agent via Dubai-Mumbai ‘angadia’ (courier) route for setting the shops on fire,” he said.
Bhupendra Vanzara is a petty criminal and came in contact with the ISI agent through Facebook, the official said.
‘Baba Bhai’, without revealing his identity or motive, offered money to Vanzara to kill some people and set shops afire, the official claimed.
“Vanzara had earlier taken Rs 25,000 from the ISI agent through Paytm to buy a gun,” Mr Singh said.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Chaitanya Mandlik said Baba Bhai used to send friend requests to people having criminal mentality and those in need of money.
“We traced some of the IP addresses, used by the ISI agent to chat with Vanzara, to Karachi, which establishes the ISI connection. This was a money trap laid by them to lure Indian citizens to spread terror and cause economic losses,” Mr Mandlik said.
The trio and the unidentified ISI agent, who was giving instructions to them from abroad, have been booked under Indian Penal Code Sections 121 (waging war against the government) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy), and relevant provisions of the UAPA, the police said.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)