New Delhi: India on Thursday declared a Pakistan High Commission staffer, detained earlier in the day for espionage activities, as persona non grata.
Acting on inputs, the Delhi Police's Crime Branch detained the staffer, identified as Mehmood Akhtar, after he was found in possession of certain defence documents. Akhtar was released after questioning as he enjoys diplomatic immunity, police said.
The crime branch has also arrested two persons, residents of Rajasthan, for allegedly passing on sensitive information to Akhtar, they said.
Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar told Pakistan High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit, who was summoned by the Ministry of External Affairs, that Akhtar has been declared persona non grata for espionage activities. It means Akhtar has been given 48 hours to leave the country.
Pakistan`s High Commissioner Abdul Basit lodged a "strong protest" with the Indian Foreign Ministry and said the detention contravened diplomatic conventions, news agency AFP quoted a source as saying.
"Pakistan never engages in activity that is incompatible with its diplomatic status," he said.
The other two persons arrested on espionage charges are from Rajasthan.
"The spies are residents of Rajasthan working for Pakistan's ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence). The spies were in touch with the staff here at Pakistan High Commission and were providing sensitive information," said a senior police officer.
Those arrested have been identified as Maulana Ramzan and Subhash Jangir, he said.
The arrests were reportedly made following a tip-off from the Intelligence Bureau.
According to a report, crime branch officials have briefed Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung on the matter.
This is not the first time that employees of the Pakistan High Commission have come under the radar over alleged espionage in India.
Last years, police claimed to have busted an ISI spy ring in the high commission and five persons were arrested.