Pak mission staffer expelled on spying charge

New Delhi: Delhi Police Crime Branch briefly detained a staff member of the Pakistan High Commission on Thursday morning after he was found to be in possession of defence-related documents. Identified as Mehmood Akhtar, he was released after questioning since he enjoys diplomatic immunity. But he was declared persona non grata.

Police swooped on Akhtar following the arrest of two people from Rajasthan who were said to have leaked sensitive documents to him. The arrested duo, Maulana Ramzan and Subhash Jangir, are working for Pakistan’s spy agency ISI, according to a police officer, and providing the Pak High Commission staffer classified material.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of External Affairs summoned Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit and informed him that Akhtar has been declared persona non grata for spying. Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar also pointed out Pakistan’s repeated border violations to Basit.

Delhi Police Joint Commissioner (C rime) Ravinder Yadav, told the media 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. He was later hired by ISI and was working in the visa department of Pak High Commission.”

Apparently, the espionage activity has been going on for more than a year and the arrested men were allegedly spying on BSF movements and pass on the information to Akhtar.

Meanwhile, a BSF constable injured in firing from across the border succumbed to his injuries on Thursday morning. Jitender Kumar from Bihar, sustained a splinter injury during mortar shelling as Pakistan continued to violate ceasefire in RS Pura and Arnia sectors in Jammu and Kashmir.

Pakistani protest

In a later development, Islamabad has lodged a strong protest against the arrest of Akhtar with New Delhi. Pak High Commissioner Basit said that “Pakistan High Commission never engages in any activity that is incompatible with its diplomatic status.” The envoy also objected to the detention of Akhtar in violation of 1961 Vienna Convention.

Some maps and details of deployment of forces were found with Akhtar, according to a CNN-News18 report. A former Raw official RSN Singh told the TV news channel that the fact that the news has been released to the media and given so much importance shows this is a major catch.

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