Pak HC staffer held for spying; Two others arrested

RSTV Bureau

FILE: File photo of pakistan High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit at South Block, New Delhi. Photo – PTI

A Pakistan High Commission staffer was on Thursday detained for his alleged involvement in an espionage ring involving sharing of sensitive defence documents and deployment details of BSF along the Indo-Pak border with Pakistani spy agency ISI. The staffer, named Mehmood Akhtar, has been declared as persona non-grata – nuanced diplomatic term for person non-acceptable to the host nation.

Following the development, Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit was summoned by Union Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar. The latter conveyed India’s action following brief detention of the staffer who was later released.

“Foreign Secretary summoned Pak High Commissioner to convey that Pak High Commission staffer has been declared persona non grata for espionage activities,” said Vikas Swarup, spokesperson of Ministry of External Affairs.

On his part, the Pakistani envoy rejected the accusations, terming them “false and unsubstantiated”.

Earlier, acting on inputs, Delhi Police crime branch took the staffer identified as Mehmood Akhtar in custody after he was found in possession of certain defence documents. Akhtar was released after questioning as he enjoys diplomatic immunity, the police said.

Mehmood Akhtar, who worked in visa section of the High Commission, was procuring critical details from two other accomplices who have been arrested by the Delhi police crime branch.

“The accused were involved in espionage activities for over a year-and-a-half. We were watching their activities for past six months. On a specific input, they were held yesterday. Akhtar is a kingpin of the spy ring,” Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch) RS Yadav told a press conference.

He said Akhtar had forged Aadhaar card and used to obtain information from his accomplices paying hefty amount to them.

Two other men arrested have been identified as Maulana Ramzan and Subhash Jangir, according to the police. Both are residents of Rajasthan.

“The alleged spies are residents of Rajasthan working for Pakistan’s ISI. They were in touch with the staff here at Pakistan High Commission and were providing sensitive information,” said a senior police officer.

(With inputs from the PTI)