New Delhi: The Delhi Police on Thursday gave details of how an espionage ring was busted in the national capital, which led to the detention of a Pakistan High Commission staffer and arrest of two ISI spies on Wednesday.
Addressing a press conference, Joint Commissioner of Police, Crime, Ravindra Yadav, said that all the three, caught outside the gates to Delhi Zoo, were involved in espionage for over one-and-half years. The trio used to share information with Pakistan's intelligence agency, ISI.
On initial information after being caught red-handed, the Pakistan official showed a forged Aadhar card with which he tried to depose himself as Mehmood Rajput, the resident of India's Chandni Chowk. However, later he was identified by the Pakistan High Commission as its employee, Mehmood Akhtar.
"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.
The Delhi Police official further told reporters that documents recovered from the arrested were defence-related maps, deployment charts and lists of officers working along India`s border with Pakistan.
"There was a high probability that the information passed on by these anti-national elements to PIO (Pakistan intelligence operative) is being used against the national interests and could be highly detrimental to national security," the police said, adding that they had been trying to bust the spy ring for six months.
Yadav said, "Mehmood Akhtar was a Hawaldar of 40 Baloch Regiment of the Pakistan Army and native of village Kahuta, Rawalpindi district. He was hired by ISI three years back and was working in visa department in High Commission."
Akhtar was placed in visa section purposely. He used to zero in on visa-applying Indians who could be potential recruits, said the Delhi Police official.
"Since Akhtar was working in the visa department, it gave easy access to him to identify people who could work for him as spies. People who were financially weak would be lured by the promise of getting big money," said a senior police officer.
The officer said the honey trap angle was also being explored. "From the initial investigation, it has been revealed that some girls were exploited after being promised good money and were used to lure men into the module. We are investigating this aspect," he added.
"Maulana used to run a local Madrasa and used to lure needy people to work as a spy. Subhash Jangir is a small-time businessman who was in need of money," added Yadav.
Maulana, a Rajasthan resident, is a school drop-out. About one-and-a-half-year back, he came in contact with a Jodhpur-based person identified as Shoaib, who lured him to join him in accruing vital information about the installations of Army and para-military forces in Gujarat and Rajasthan. Shoaib and Maulana met Mehmood Akhtar, who promised them a handsome amount in return of vital information or documents related to defence installments, informed the Delhi Police.
Subhash Jangir, 35, is Nagaur resident. Jangir was under heavy debt and Maulana knew about his financial condition. The ISI agent then lured Jangir into his trap and convinced him to do anti-national activities. Maulana and Subhash have visited Delhi two-three times in the past to pass information to Akhtar, said Yadav.
Shoaib will be arrested soon for his involvement in the espionage ring, added Yadav.
India today declared the Pakistan High Commission staffer as a persona non grata.
This was conveyed by Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar who summoned Pakistan envoy Abdul Basit to his office following a brief detention of the staffer who was later released.