In 2007, Vishal, a 25-year-old student from Pune, Maharashtra, was sentenced to seven years in jail on espionage charges. He had fallen in love with Fatima Sallahudin Sha, whom he met on Yahoo Messenger.
Fatima identified herself as a Pakistani and claimed her father was a retired Pakistani Army officer. Vishal and Fatima shared personal details and the latter agreed to Vishal's marriage proposal, subject to the condition that he converted to Islam. Her father allegedly lured Vishal by offering to settle him in London and to handle a business there.
These are the details of a case publised in The Indian Express.
The report claimed the case had connections with two Pakistan High Commission employees and an ISI agent.
Vishal contacted Syed S Hussain Tirmizi, a staffer at the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi, who arranged for his visa to Pakistan, according to the report. During his visit, Vishal allegedly received military training for “terrorism activities” and was asked to collect information about Army establishments and religious places in Pune.
The report cited the police as saying that Vishal was detained for violating the Official Secrets Act (OSA), who said that he was planning to convey this information to Pakistan.
The police recovered CDs with photographs of buildings of various Army establishments, such as the National Defence Academy (NDA), Bombay Engineering Group (BEG), Southern Command, and other sensitive locations, such as the Shrimant Dagdusheth Halwai Temple and the RSS office ‘Motibag’ in Pune, among other materials, as per the reprot. Vishal's emails with Fatima, along with his contacts with Muslim clerics in Pune, were also investigated.
Sixteen years later, Sallahudin Sha and his daughter Fatima Sha are still named as "wanted" in the 2007 espionage case records.
Vishal's story highlights the risks of online relationships and the consequences of getting involved with individuals who have dubious links. It also illustrates the dangers of online radicalisation and the need to exercise caution when interacting with strangers online.
The case also highlights the tensions between India and Pakistan and the ongoing threat of espionage activities. The fact that an ISI agent and two officials from the Pakistan High Commission were allegedly involved in the case underscores the extent to which state actors may be involved in such activities. It also underscores the need for greater vigilance and cooperation between the two countries to address such threats.
The case has broader implications for the use of social media and online communication tools. It highlights the need for greater awareness of the risks of online interactions and the importance of exercising caution when interacting with strangers online. It also underscores the need for greater security measures to protect against the potential misuse of online communication tools for nefarious purposes.
Overall, Vishal's story is a cautionary tale of the risks of online relationships and the need for greater vigilance and awareness of the potential dangers of online communication. It also underscores the need for greater cooperation and coordination between countries to address the ongoing threat of espionage activities.