On Sunday, two staff members from the Pakistan high commission were detained at Bikanervala Chowk in Karol Bagh at 10.45 am in a joint operation conducted by military intelligence and Delhi Police’s special cell.
They were apprehended red-hand while obtaining documents on the Indian security establishment from an Indian national and handing over cash and an iPhone to him, said the official sources in New Delhi.
The two men are identified as Abid Husain Abid (42), a resident of Shekhpura in Pakistan’s Punjab province, and Mohammad Tahir Khan (44), a resident of Islamabad. Both worked as an Assistant Visa Officers in the Visa Section of the Pakistan High Commission.
They had been under the surveillance for the past few months after they tried to contact and entice some defense personnel into espionage-related activities.
“A team led by inspectors Umesh Barthwal and Neeraj Kumar received information that the men were coming to meet an informer to collect classified documents. The police team set a trap and arrested them while they were returning. Police are looking for the man who handed over the documents,” told a senior police officer.
The Pakistan High Commission car that was being used by the two ISI agents in Delhi.L
“The two were interrogated and they named another person, who was detained from Karol Bagh later in the evening. Senior officials were informed and the men were handed over to the embassy,” the officer said.
“The two men initially claimed to be Indian nationals and even produced fake identity cards. Later, during the interrogation, they confessed they were officials at the Pakistan high commission and worked for the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)”, said the officials.
An FIR has been registered against the duo by the Special Cell police under sections of the Official Secrets Act.
During questioning, the men have disclosed that they were collecting documents from informers about the Army movement in Jammu and Kashmir, the officer said.
As an immediate action, the Ministry of External Affairs said in its statement, “The government has declared both these officials persona non grata for indulging in activities incompatible with their status as members of a diplomatic mission and asked them to leave the country within 24 four hours.”
Two of the detained men Abid Hussain and Muhammad Tahir have been handed over to Pakistan via Wagah border crossing.
On Monday, Pakistan summoned a senior Indian diplomat to register a strong protest against India’s decision to expel two officials of the Pakistan High Commission on charges of espionage.
Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry condemned the Indian government’s decision and said, “Two staff members of the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi were lifted by the Indian authorities today (May 31) on false and unsubstantiated charges. Though, they were released on intervention by the High Commission. We condemn the detention and torture as well as threatening and pressuring of the diplomatic officials to accept false charges.”
“Pakistan strongly declines the baseless Indian accusations and deplores the Indian action which is in clear violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations as well as the norms of diplomatic conduct especially in an already vitiated environment,” it said.
Pakistan had decreased diplomatic ties by expelling the Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad following India’s decision to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcate the state into two union territories in August last year.
This is the first time after four years that such an event of expelling officials of the Pakistan High Commission has taken place. In October 2016, both the countries had expelled officials from each other’s missions for spying.