The Indian Navy has reportedly banned the use of social media and smartphones at naval bases,dockyards and on-board warships.
The stringent action has been taken by the force to ensure no sensitive information is leaked out of the force. The order comes after seven naval personnel were caught leaking sensitive information to enemy intelligence agencies over social media, reported the ANI.
Earlier this month, seven Navy personnel and a hawala operator were arrested from various parts of the country after an espionage racket having links to Pakistan was busted in a joint operation by different intelligence departments.
The operation 'Joint Dolphin's Nose' was launched by the Andhra Pradesh Intelligence Department, Central Intelligence Agencies and Naval Intelligence.
According to intelligence agencies, three sailors were arrested from Visakhapatnam, two from Karwar and two from Mumbai for leaking sensitive information about the movements of warships and submarines to Pakistani agents. The bust had exposed lapses in the security apparatus placed around critical assets in India.
The agencies stated that both the Eastern and Western naval command centres, responsible for the security of maritime borders, were exposed to the Pakistani agents.
About the arrests, the force said: "In a joint operation with naval intelligence and Central intelligence agencies, the Andhra Pradesh Police arrested some junior naval personnel. The case is under investigation by Andhra Pradesh Police."
Meanwhile, the intelligence wing of Andhra Pradesh police also said that they have busted the racket under an operation named 'Dolphin's Nose' in association with the central intelligence agencies and naval intelligence.
The accused were produced before the National Investigation Agency court in Vijayawada on Friday. They were remanded to judicial custody till January 3. Further details are awaited.
The police said that all the arrested officials were in touch with Pakistani women who had befriended them on Facebook.
"Some more suspects are being questioned," the agencies said.
The agencies pointed out that Visakhapatnam, the headquarters of the Eastern Command of the Indian Navy and also the base of nuclear submarine Arihant, was exposed to the espionage racket. They also stated that the Eastern Command looks upon suspicious Chinese ship movements in Indian waters.
The Western naval command in Mumbai was also exposed along with Karwar, the naval centre which has the force's lone aircraft carrier Vikramaditya.
Indian Navy, however, maintained that their critical assets were intact and that there was no breach.
It was alleged that officials were paid through a hawala operator for providing information. The chats between these sailors who were being used by Pakistani agents were sexually explicit.
Sources said the honey trap with women posing as their friends on Facebook was set up by Pakistani intelligence operatives. The sailors were later blackmailed and forced to provide information.
"State Intelligence Department along with Central Intelligence Agencies and Naval Intelligence busted an espionage racket having links to Pakistan. 7 Navy personnel and a hawala operator have been arrested from different parts of the country," Andhra Pradesh Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) said in a statement.
With inputs from Agencies.