External Affairs Ministry (MEA) spokesperson Vikas Swarup on Thursday expressed happiness over the arrest of two Indian spies who were working for the ISI and asserted that the Pakistani official, who was let off due to diplomatic immunity, must leave the country within 48 hours.
“I am happy to say that we've nipped this ISI ring in the bud,” Swarup said as he briefed the media on expelling of the Pakistan High Commission staffer, Mehmood Akhtar held for espionage.
The Crime Branch of the Delhi Police detained the Pak official along with two Rajasthani residents – Maulana Ramzan and Subhash Jangir on Wednesday for passing on sensitive defense information to Pakistan’s ISI.
While Ramzan and Jangir were arrested and sent to 12 days' custody, Akhtar was declared “persona non-grata” and asked to leave the country along with his family.
However, Swarup said more arrests were possible in the case.
“If we uncover evidence of the involvement of more people, they will be arrested,” he said.
He also slammed Pakistan for denying the espionage charges and alleging that the official was harassed by Indian authorities.
“Pakistan’s denial is something that has become quite characteristic. There’s no question of harassment instead it was Mehmood Akhtar who resorted to subterfuge by concealing his identity,” Swarup said.
The spy ring was unearthed after the Delhi Police received a tip-off about the meeting of the Pak official and the two Indian spies in the national capital.
The three were arrested on Wednesday and sustained interrogation revealed that Akhtar worked in the Visa office of the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi and was the kingpin of the racket.
He used to recruit Indians as spies for Pakistan and the module was active for the last one and a half years.
“The Pak official’s job was to target possible recruits from those applying for a visa. He looked out for people from economically weaker sections. These spies would then pass on vital information like deployment of army personnel at border areas to the official,” Ravindra Yadav, Joint CP, Delhi Police, said.
“He (Akhtar) used to meet the spies once a month,” he added.
The police said that Akhtar used to be a hawaladar in the Baloch regiment of the Pakistan Army.