Posted On November 1, 2016 By In Nation And 253 Views

Pak High Commission Staffer Expelled For Espionage Has 48 Hours To Leave

NEW DELHI:  A Pakistan High Commission staffer has been expelled by India for espionage and has been ordered to leave within 48 hours. Mahmood Akhtar, 35, was caught by the police on Wednesday at the Delhi zoo, while he was receiving sensitive intel and documents from two men from Rajasthan. The men were arrested but Akhtar was let off because of diplomatic immunity. Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar summoned Pakistan’s High Commissioner Abdul Basit on Thursday and said Akhtar is persona non grata and he and his family must leave by Saturday. To Pakistan’s allegation that Akhtar was “detained and manhandled in violation of the Vienna convention,” foreign ministry spokesperson Vikas Swaroop said: “Akhtar was treated with “most respect.” Akhtar was recruited by Pakistani Inter-Services intelligence or ISI three years ago and later posted in the High Commission in Delhi, the police said. He worked in the Visa section, allegedly so he could recruit potential spies. The men who were arrested, Maulana Ramzan and Subhash Jangir, allegedly accessed sensitive defence documents and information for Akhtar for about a year and a half. “Documents recovered from them had details of deployment of the army and Border Security Force (BSF) at the border, a list of current and former soldiers…,” a police officer said. Akhtar would meet the two at a designated place every month. On Wednesday, that meeting place was the zoo. When police teams tracking them for months confronted them, Akhtar produced an Aadhar card. “The card was fake. On sustained questioning, he invoked diplomatic immunity,” the police said, adding that his identity was established after the foreign ministry contacted the Pakistan mission. Maulana worked at a Madrasa in Rajasthan. He allegedly enlisted Subhash Jangir, a grocery shop owner, after learning that he badly needed money. For each document they passed on, the two are believed to have been paid up to Rs. 50,000. More employees at the Pakistani mission are believed to be under scrutiny. Last year, five people including an Air Force officer were arrested after a spy ring associated with Pakistani intelligence was exposed. The police say today’s arrests may be connected to that network. Ties between India and Pakistan have been strained over terror attacks from Pakistan, especially last month’s Uri attack in which 19 soldiers were killed. In what was widely seen as retaliation, the army carried out surgical strikes on September 29 across the Line of Control to target staging camps for terrorists planning to target cities in India.

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