- Akhtar was intercepted by Delhi Police in the forenoon yesterday.
- He was receiving sensitive documents about national security from two persons.
- Akhtar was released as he enjoys diplomatic immunity, police said.
India today declared a Pakistan High Commission staffer 'persona non-grata' for spying and asked him to leave the country within 48 hours after he was caught by Delhi Police with sensitive defence documents, including those about deployment details of BSF along the Indo-Pak border.
"Today morning Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar summoned the Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit and informed him that India had intercepted an official of the Pakistan High Commission in the pursuit of espionage and that he was being declared persona non-grata," Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.
"The Pakistan High Commission has been informed that Mehmood Akhtar and his family must return to Pakistan by October 29. The Foreign Secretary also strongly conveyed to the Pak High Commissioner that the Pak High Commission must ensure that none of its members indulges in activities inimical to India, or behaves in a manner that is incompatible with their diplomatic status," Swarup said.
He also rejected Pakistani allegations of "mishandling" Akhtar, saying he was treated with "utmost courtesy". "When he was handed over to the Pakistan High Commission in the presence of a ministry official, Akhtar himself said he was treated well," he added.
Swarup said Akhtar told the police that he had joined the Baloch Regiment of the Pakistan Army in 1997 and came on deputation to the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) in 2013 and posted in September 2013 to the Pakistan High Commission where he is presently working as Assistant to Farukh Habib, Counsellor (Trade).
Asserting that terror has become the "central motive" in India's interactions with Pakistan, Swarup said it was important that Pakistan takes action to honour various commitments it has made, including at the highest level, that it will dismantle the terror infrastructure and will not allow its soil to be used for such activities against any country, including India.
"The terrorist attack in Uri and continuing attacks with repeated frequency in parts of Jammu and Kashmir are being carried out with the support of Pakistan. It is a matter of great concern that instead of taking action against the cancer, Pakistan takes shelter under denial and abjuration. LeT, JeM are active under the various aegis and find support from state organs of Pakistan," Swarup said.
Reacting strongly to Pakistan's denial of charges as "false and unsubstantiated" and that it was an attempt by India to divert attention from Kashmir issue, Swarup said there was no "rationale" behind the claim as Akhtar was caught "red-handed" committing an illegal act.
"We are happy that we nipped the ISI spy ring in the bud," he said, adding that "denial that has come out from Pakistan is something which has by now become quite characteristic (of that country)."
On remarks of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan that India was trying to "implode" Pakistan, the Spokesperson said if today that country is feeling isolated, it is because of "misguided policies".
Giving details of how Akhtar was caught, Swarup said following intelligence inputs for the last six months relating to espionage involving vital installations of the army and paramilitary forces; Akhtar was intercepted by Delhi Police in the forenoon yesterday while he was receiving sensitive documents about national security from two persons.
Although initially, Akhtar masqueraded as an Indian national and even produced a fake Aadhar card, he later admitted that he worked at the Pakistan High Commission and requested that the mission is informed of the developments.
Earlier, at a press conference, Delhi Police said acting on inputs, its crime branch took the staffer identified as Mehmood Akhtar into custody 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.
"The alleged spies are residents of Rajasthan working for Pakistan's ISI. They 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.
Last Updated 31, Mar 2018, 7:03 PM IST