India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) filed a preliminary chargesheet against three Sri Lankan nationals, who were arrested over alleged espionage attempt, in Chennai city court on Thursday, the New Indian Express reported.
Filing the charge-sheet against Zahir Hussain, Siva Balan and Mohammed Saleem, the NIA submitted that investigations are still pending against six other accused, including two Pakistan’s embassy officials in Colombo.
The alleged espionage attempt was busted in April when the ‘Q’ Branch of the Tamil Nadu police arrested Zahir Hussain from Triplicane in Chennai after specific alerts from the intelligence agency of a foreign country.
While Hussain had maintained that he was in Chennai only in connection with his cloth business, police said he was sent by two Pakistani officials, then posted in Colombo. He was sending information and photos of strategic installations in south India to the duo.
Subsequent to his arrest, police also nabbed his associate Siva Balan. Two others, Mohammed Saleem and Rafiq were also held when police were trailing counterfeit and arms smuggling gangs.
The investigations were later handed over to NIA, which last month made the sensational arrest of suspected ISI spy Arun Selvarajan, a Sri Lankan national, who is believed to have developed contacts with influential circles in Chennai. The case against Arun Selvarajan is being investigated as a separate case.
The chargesheet filed against the trio by NIA on Thursday has listed nine charges, including under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, which deals with terrorist activities. Since the special court judge Moni, before whom the case is pending was on leave, the chargesheet was filed before first sessions court judge Malathy.
“We have also submitted that investigation is still pending against six other accused. Rafiq’s links with arms smuggling gangs is yet to be ascertained. Extradition process is still pending against one who is now in Malaysia,” public persecutor C S S Pillai told Express.
Investigations against the two Pakistani officials are also pending and two more accused, who have been identified, are yet to be arrested.
Invoking provisions of Section 17 of NIA Act, the agency has not disclosed identities of nearly 20 witnesses in the chargesheet.
“Their identities will be revealed to the defence only during the trial. A total of nine charges are listed against the three accused,” said Pillai.