Mumbai - Kul Bhushan Jadhav was arrested by Pakistan's Intelligence Bureau as he had dropped his guard and started talking like a Marathi Manoos during his telephone conversations with his family, disclose senior Indian officers from central intelligence, reported Indian newspaper Mumbai Mirror.

Pakistan has alleged that he is a RAW agent. India has told Pakistan that although Jadhav could be an Indian, he had nothing do with the government.

According to the paper, top intelligence officers have revealed that after 14 years of working in the region he had become a bit complacent. It is suspected that his phone was on surveillance by the Pakistani agencies and those who were monitoring his communications found something amiss and out of character as Jadhav is alleged to be operating under the cover of a Muslim businessman.

Jadhav's habit of speaking to his family in Marathi and with extreme familiarity and comfort level in the language betrayed his cover - his passport identifies him as Husain Mubarak Patel; but his mannerisms were nothing like that of a Muslim Patel.

Patel's passport was apparently issued from Thane Regional Passport Office (RPO) showing his birthplace as Sangli, Maharashtra. "We have tried to establish the veracity of Patel's passport and found that it was not issued from our RPO," says Thane police commissioner, Param Bir Singh. "No police verification report was ever submitted by Thane police. In all probability it could be a bogus passport," he added.

Jadhav, who last visited Mumbai some four months back, was under watch by the Pakistani agencies during his movements in Iranian cities in the course of his work, his close friends from Mumbai police told this newspaper. Jadhav could have been honey-trapped before his arrest and then subjected to ruthless methods of interrogation and torture to extract information from him over a period of several weeks, they feel. The family had lost contact with Jadhav since February leading to the suspicion that he was in the custody of Pakistan for a while now.

As a result, two other local contacts who were supposed to provide back-up assistance to Jadhav are also reportedly missing for over a month. The standard operating procedure is to always have some 'contacts' on standby to be the contact persons in times of emergency or when there is total blackout of communications and inaccessibility of the person of interest. Both the Indian contacts are inaccessible and have probably gone underground or are on the run - unless they have already been arrested and thrown behind bars - disclosed officers from the Mumbai police.

The fallout of the Jadhav's arrest is the frantic counterwinding operations launched by the Indian agencies in India as also in Pakistan. According to experts, the operations which are connected to an operative have to be immediately erased or folded up soon after he is outed so that there is always a plausible deniability.

Shirish Thorat, New York-based security expert and former Indian police officer said, "In the event of an asset getting arrested the handlers immediately secure other related assets like Agents in Places (AIP) or regroup their operations and fold up all the ongoing or future tasks. This discontinuation of operations is far monumental a disaster than the arrest of an operative." In Jadhav's case too, the agencies have launched an expeditious exercise to retrace his footsteps and shut down all of his possible ongoing operations. The first step is to disown Jadhav as their operative and also ask the family to disassociate with him. Jadhav's family wanted to approach the top echelons of the government, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah, to exert pressure on Pakistan to release him.

When asked whether the ministry of external affairs has officially informed the Mumbai police so that the Jadhav family can be intimated about his arrest in Pakistan, Deven Bharti, joint commissioner of police (law and order), replied in negative.

According to Indian Express, in November 2003, Jadhav obtained a passport (E6934766) from Pune, identifying him by the pseudonym Hussein Mubarak Patel.

Born in 1968 (according to the passport), Jadhav joined the National Defence Academy in 1987, and was commissioned as a Naval engineer in 1990. According to colleagues, he rose to the rank of Commander after 14 years of service — one more than is the norm.

But within months of his passport being issued in Pune, Jadhav ended up in the Chabahar free trade zone, then a hub of Indian hopes to set up a transit route into Afghanistan and Iran. He told his family he was setting up a business to service trawlers and ferries operating out of the port, said friends.

To two friends in the Navy, who declined to be identified, Jadhav gave varying accounts of why he had left the service. To one, he dropped broad hints of being involved in government-linked activity. “He never showed up at the usual reunion kind of things. He’d pretty much disappeared,” said one friend.

The address given to obtain his passport — the Martand Co-operative Housing Society in the Sai Vishwa area of Pune suburb Bavdhan — is incomplete. The records do not even state which apartment Jadhav may have occupied in the three-building complex.

Vijay Deshmukh, secretary of the building society, said records show no apartment was owned by anyone with the surnames Jadhav or Patel. None of the residents recognised Jadhav from a photograph shown to them.

However, Deshmukh said, “In the past, the norms of registration of tenants with police were not as stringent as they are these days.”

Electronic tags on the Pune passport office’s computer system show an earlier passport was held by Husein Mubarak Patel but there were no details of the address this document was issued for since it was done before computerised records were introduced. “It’s a common method to pick up a fake identity. The fact that there is an earlier passport with valid visas makes getting new ones that much easier,” said a Delhi Police officer.

“But I can’t think why an intelligence officer should have gone through this subterfuge to obtain a pseudonymous passport. Let’s put it this way: there are systems in place to handle this kind of thing,” said a former RAW officer.