Tensions between India and Pakistan have escalated further after a Pakistani high commission staffer was briefly detained for allegedly running a spy ring that collected sensitive information about Indian security operations.
Delhi Police detained Mehmood Akhtar on Wednesday and also arrested two Indian citizens at the Delhi zoo when they were meeting to exchange sensitive documents. A third Indian was arrested on Thursday. Akhtar, who was released from custody under diplomatic immunity rules, has been asked to leave the country by Saturday.
Pakistan has denied the charge and accused Indian investigators of manhandling Akhtar. It also expelled an Indian embassy staff in a tit-for-tat move, saying Surjeet Singh’s activities were against diplomatic norms. New Delhi has rejected Pakistan’s accusations.
1. Akhtar initially identified himself as Mehmood Rajput on being questioned and was carrying a forged Aadhaar card that said he was a resident of building number 2350 at Gali Meer Madari in Chandni Chowk.
2. He later told Delhi Police he is a serving head constable with the Pakistan Army’s Baloch Regiment, which he joined in 1997, and he came on deputation to the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) in 2013.
3. Akhtar had been working with the Pakistan high commission in India for the past three years where he was assigned the visa consultation unit. He was warned by his seniors to lie low because they believed there are Indian spies in the high commission.
4. At the visa section, Akhtar checked every application to find out about the financial status of the applicants. He also checked if the applicants had relatives in Pakistan and tried exploiting poor residents.
5. Delhi Police have said Akhtar used to recruit Indians for spying and send information to Pakistan for the last one-and-a-half years. Documents on defence deployment and border area maps were recovered from the three men. They had lists of BSF men who were deployed, transferred or retired.
6. The two arrested Indian citizens have been identified as Rajasthan’s Maulana Ramzan Khan and Subhash Jangid. Sohaib Nagaur, the third person who was arrested later, is a visa agent and was allegedly working as a spy for Pakistan’s ISI.
7. Akhtar used to give a specific task to Khan (50) and Jangid (37) who would then contact personnel from the paramilitary and army from border areas of Rajasthan and Gujarat for the required information. Akhtar recently asked them to arrange a list of BSF officers deployed in the region along with their home addresses and contact details.
8. Khan, a native of Barmer district, moved to Nagaur several years ago and was the imam of the Qureshi mosque in the city. Jangid belongs to Inana village and fought the 2013 assembly elections as an independent from the Khinwsar constituency. Jangid ran into heavy debt after the polls and moved to Nagaur to set up his business.
9. Neighbours claimed that Jangid frequented Delhi for purchasing goods for his shop and that Ramzan did not have many friends in the area but a large number of outsiders used to visit him.
10. The men never exchanged information or documents via email or WhatsApp. They used to meet once in a month at either Jama Masjid or Purana Qila, where the spies used to hand over the information to the diplomat, who assigned them the next task.