- Dec 25, 2015
Pakistan High Commission staffer declared persona non grata for spying; 2 Indians held
New Delhi: India on Thursday declared a Pakistani High Commission staffer in New Delhi persona non grata for his alleged involvement in espionage activities.
According to Bhishm Singh, deputy commissioner of Delhi Police’s crime branch, the staffer, identified as Mehmood Akhtar, was apprehended in the Delhi zoo on 25 October while he was meeting two alleged Indian spies, Ramzan Khan alias Hazrat and Subhash Jangir. “Both Jangir and Khan are residents of Rajasthan and the three would meet once or twice a month, when Akhtar would pass on information to the other two,” said Singh.
Singh said that the spy module was active for more than a year and the police had been working on the case for almost six months after they got inputs that Khan and Jangir were acting as spies and passing on information across the border about the deployment of Border Security Force and Indian Army along the India-Pakistan border.
Akhtar, however, was released after questioning as he enjoys diplomatic immunity.
The police, the officer said, suspect the involvement of more people in the racket and are investigations are on and more arrests are likely to follow soon.
The development comes amid tense relations between the two countries over Pakistan’s support to cross-border terrorism and Pakistan’s accusations against India on its alleged human rights violations in Kashmir.
Foreign secretary S. Jaishankar summoned the Pakistani High Commissioner Abdul Basit to the foreign office on Thursday morning after news reports that the Pakistani staffer had been detained by the Delhi police crime branch with defence related documents in his possession.
Ministry of external affairs spokesman Vikas Swarup said Basit was told about the staffer’s espionage activities.
FS summons Pak High Commissioner to convey that Pak High Commission staffer has been declared persona non grata for espionage activities
— Vikas Swarup (@MEAIndia) October 27, 2016
Declaring a staffer persona non grata means the official would have to leave his post in New Delhi.
Accusations of spying and espionage activities are routinely levelled by India and Pakistan against diplomats and staffers of the other country stationed in New Delhi and Islamabad. Expulsions of staffers and sometimes even diplomats are also routine though the frequency had come down in recent years, thanks to de-escalation of tension between the two sides.
In 2010, an Indian High Commission staffer Madhuri Gupta, stationed in Islamabad was recalled home and arrested for allegedly passing on information to an Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) official.
Gupta was working in the press section of the Indian High Commission when she came under the scanner of Indian intelligence officials for her alleged close interactions with the Pakistani official.
PTI also contributed to this story.
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