Retired Signalman Saurabh Sharma was apprehended by the Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) following inputs from the Military Intelligence (MI) Unit in Lucknow, sources informed IANS.
The ex-serviceman was allegedly working based in Karachi for Pakistani intelligence handlers. In November last, officials of the Lucknow MI had received inputs regarding Sharma's 'involvement' in espionage activities, the sources said.
The information code named 'Operation Cross-Connection' was shared with the UP ATS in early December, following which a joint investigation was initiated.
After his arrest from his parental house in Bihuni village in Hapur district, Sharma told his interrogators that he got in touch with a Pakistani intelligence operative on Facebook in 2014.
The operative, he said, initially introduced 'herself' as a defence journalist. Subsequently, by 2016, he had started sharing sensitive military information in return for money, the sources said.
Sharma, the sources said, shared all the sensitive information through text, audio and photo messages and also calls, mostly on WhatsApp. He allegedly received several payments from his Pakistani handlers.
The former serviceman was discharged from the Army in June 2020 on medical grounds. The sources said that proof of his activities have been found on his mobile phone too.
An FIR has been lodged at the Gomti Nagar police station in Lucknow against Sharma under Sections 120-B and 123 of the IPC, Sections 3, 4, 5 and 9 of the Official Secrets Act, and Section 13 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
The UP ATS is likely to seek his police custody from a local court for further investigation.
The Lucknow MI Unit, UP ATS and central intelligence agencies are jointly examining further leads in the case, the sources added.
(IANS feed with minor edits)