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Beware of Pakistani agents posing as babas, gurus: Indian Army to soldiers

Some of the profiles are honey traps with fictitious identity of women. Two soldiers were apprehended by the Rajasthan Police on Tuesday for allegedly passing on confidential information after ‘falling into a honey trap’ by a Pakistani woman. Othe...

Updated: Nov 08, 2019, 11.13 AM IST
The Army has advised soldiers to be wary of apps on photo and video sharing, instant messaging, dating and social network as Pakistani operatives use them to find targets.
NEW DELHI: The Indian Army has warned its soldiers to beware of fake ‘babas’ and ‘spiritual gurus’ who could be Pakistan Intelligence agents trying to trap them and extract confidential information.

This is the latest method being used by Pakistan Intelligence Operatives (PIOs) to lure serving soldiers or their families into sharing sensitive information by posing as a spiritual guru. The army, in an internal document, has informed its personnel to watch out for this spy technique. “This method generally happens when a vulnerability or a problem of a soldier is exploited by a PIO,” explained an official.

Officials explained that the PIOs use social media platforms such as YouTube, WhatsApp and Skype to pose as gurus to target serving soldiers. The army has identified about 150 social media profiles, suspected to be PIOs, which try to cultivate serving and retired personnel and their dependents as sources to gather sensitive information. Some of the profiles are of fictitious women, created to honey trap soldiers. The latest case is of two soldiers who were apprehended by the Rajasthan Police on Tuesday for allegedly passing on confidential information after falling into a honey trap by a Pakistani woman. Other profiles are on fake lottery schemes and those indulging in blackmailing.

The army has advised its soldiers to be wary about apps on photo and video sharing, instant messaging, dating and social network, as they are used by PIOs to find targets. Some of these platforms include YouTube, Telegram, Tik Tok, Skype and IMO.

The Pakistani agents are also assuming fake officer identities and using Pakistan mobile phone numbers, spoofed numbers and WhatsApp calls to target soldiers. Women PIOs pose as Military Nursing Service staff and insurance agents.

The army has pointed out that PIOs are looking for information on military movements, deployments, strike formations (used in offensive tasks), dual-task formations (used for both western and eastern fronts), Strategic Forces Command units (which handle India’s nuclear arsenal), contact numbers of senior army officers and operational preparedness after attacks such as the one in Pulwama in February and following the Balakot air strikes.

Their main targets are telephone exchange operators, civil defence staff and movement control staff at railway stations. Railway clerks, especially at Babina, Suratgarh and Lucknow which are close to where war games are held, are also targets. PIOs are also keen on extracting information on army base workshops, which carry out repair and overhaul of all equipment. These are places where there is a strong civil interface with the army.

While this year has witnessed aggressive targeting by PIOs, the army has made it clear to its personnel that leaking military information knowingly or inadvertently is a serious offence. The army has spelt out certain don’ts for its personnel such as not posting photographs of themselves with uniforms, avoiding chatting with strangers and being part of social media groups.

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