South Asia | Tit-for-tat expulsions as Indo-Pakistani spy plot thickens
Plain-clothes policemen present two Indian men who are accused of spying for Pakistan, in New Delhi. Photo: Reuters
Plain-clothes policemen present two Indian men who are accused of spying for Pakistan, in New Delhi. Photo: Reuters

Tit-for-tat expulsions as Indo-Pakistani spy plot thickens

Pakistan has declared an Indian official persona non grata after India sent home a Pakistani High Commission staffer in an espionage probe

October 28, 2016 11:03 AM (UTC+8)

In a retaliatory move, Pakistan on Thursday declared Surjeet Singh, an official of the Indian High Commission, persona non grata. 

The decision was relayed to the Indian High Commissioner, Gautam Bambawale. Concern was expressed with regard to Surjeet Singh’s activities and he and his family have been told to leave Pakistan by Saturday.

Earlier on Thursday, India told Mehmood Akhtar, a Pakistan High Commission staffer in New Delhi, to leave the country within 48 hours after he was caught with documents relating to India’s defense strategies.

Two Indian nationals — Subhash Jangir and Maulana Ramzan, from Rajasthan state — were stopped, along with Akhtar, while passing the documents to him at Delhi Zoo on Wednesday. Jangir and Ramzan were arrested, while Akhtar was let off after questioning due to diplomatic immunity.

A fourth person, a passport and visa agent from Jodhpur whose name has been given simply as Shoaib, was detained by police in Rajasthan on Thursday evening and brought to Delhi.

Documents seized in the exchange between Akhtar and the two Indian nationals at the zoo — who were carrying forged documents, lists of army officers stationed at the India-Pakistan border and maps showing Indian troop deployments — indicate the possible involvement of some personnel from India’s Border Security Force (BSF) too in the spy ring. The involvement of more officials from the Pakistan High Commission likewise cannot be ruled out, investigators said.

When questioned, Akhtar told police he has been procuring information on BSF deployments along the Indo-Pakistani border and sharing it with Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence since 2013. Investigators suspect he may have lured informants using cash and honey traps.

When caught red-handed, Akhtar initially claimed to be a local and even showed an ID card in the name of Mehboob Rajput.

 Jangir and Ramzan hail from Nagaur in Rajasthan. Ramzan has been working as an Islamic preacher at a local mosque, earning a low salary, while Jangir ran a small grocery store near the mosque.

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