A staff member of the Pakistan High Commission was detained and let off by Delhi Police’s Crime Branch on Thursday after he was found to be in possession of defence related documents. The staffer, identified as Mehmood Akhtar, was questioned by the Inter State Cell of Crime Branch, after the arrest of two men from Rajasthan for allegedly leaking the documents to him. Akhtar, when approached by Delhi Police, claimed he was an Indian citizen and produced a fake Aadhar card. After receiving intelligence inputs, Delhi Police Crime Branch took Akhtar into custody. He was released after questioning as he enjoys diplomatic immunity, police said.
“The spies are residents of Rajasthan working for Pakistan’s ISI. The spies were in touch with the staff here at Pakistan High Commission and were providing sensitive information,” said a senior police officer. Those arrested have been identified as Maulana Ramzan and Subhash Jangir.
Briefing the media over the detention, Joint Commissioner of Delhi Police, Crime, Ravinder Yadav said that Akhtar was the kingpin of this “espionage racket” and used to recruit spies in India. “He was a havildar in Baloch regiment of Pakistan army, was later hired by ISI and was working in visa department in high commission,” Yadav said. The racket has been active for the last one-and-a-half years, Yadav said. The two arrested men were allegedly spying on BSF activities on the border and used to pass on the information to “intelligence operative” Akhtar, he added. The men were found to be in possession of defence deployment maps, border area maps and visa related documents. Another spy, identified as Shoaib from Jodhpur, will be arrested soon for his alleged involvement in the ring.
The Ministry of External Affairs summoned Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit over the detention and repeated ceasefire violations committed by the Pakistan army along the border. Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar informed Basit that the Pakistan mission staffer has been declared persona non grata for his role in the espionage case. Basit protested saying that the “detention and manhandling” of Pakistan mission staffer was in “violation of the 1961 Vienna Convention”. He asked the Indian Government “to ensure that such harassment should not happen in future”.
The detention of the Pakistani diplomat comes amid heightened tensions between India and Pakistan, with the latter resorting to heavy mortar shelling along the border. A BSF head constable who sustained a splinter injury in the cross-border firing in RS Pura sector died early Thursday morning. Shelling from across the border increased post the Indian Army’s surgical strike on terrorist launch pads inside Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir.