NEW DELHI: A staffer of the Pakistan high commission, who was detained by police for alleged possession of sensitive defence documents+ and was immediately declared persona non-grata, has been asked to leave India within 48 hours+ , MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said on Thursday.
The staffer Mehmood Akhtar, who worked in the visa section of the high commission and has diplomatic immunity, was procuring critical details from two other accomplices who have been arrested here, police said.
Akhtar was released after prolonged questioning because of his diplomatic immunity.
“During interrogation, Akhtar said that he was posted in the Pakistan high commission here since about two-and-a-half years and was working in visa section,” Vikas Swarup said.
“Akhtar is on deputation to Pak ISI since January 2013 and is a serving Hawaldar the Baloch Regiment of Pakistan army, Swarup added.
Swarup denied Pakistan’s allegations that the arrested high commission staffer was manhandled. He said Mehmood Akhtar was treated with courtesy. “When Mehmood Akhtar was handed over to Pakistan high commissioner in the presence of MEA official, he himself said he was treated well,” Swarup said.
When asked about Pakistan’s denial that Mehmood Akhtar was not involved in spying, Swarup said that this is something which has by now become quiet characteristic of Pakistan.
“We are happy that we nipped the ISI spy ring in the bud,” Swarup said.
Abdul Basit summoned
Shortly after the police disclosure, foreign secretary S Jaishankar summoned Pakistan envoy Abdul Basit to his office and conveyed to him that Akhtar has been declared persona non-grata for espionage activities, Swarup, said.
Basit strongly protested with the Indian foreign secretary the “detention and manhandling” of the Pakistan high commission staffer in violation of 1961 Vienna Convention, according to Pakistan Foreign Office.
The Pakistani envoy also denied the accusations as “false and unsubstantiated”.
“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 on Wednesday. Akhtar is a kingpin of the spy ring,” joint commissioner of police (crime branch) R S Yadav told a press conference.
Police said that Akhtar initially showed an Aadhar card in the name of Mehboob Rajput.
“He claimed to be a resident of Chandni Chowk but after sustained interrogation, he revealed his real name Mehmood Akhtar,” said Yadav.
“He is serving with Pakistan ISI and has got diplomatic immunity since he is posted in the Pakistan high commission (PHC) of Delhi. This was verified through MEA and after confirmation and as per the due procedures, he was handed over to the PHC diplomats in presence of MEA representative,” Yadav said.
There is likelihood of involvement of other persons as per the information elicited from him, which is being investigated, he said.