Investigation agencies had gone into a tizzy last year after Mehmood Akhtar, a Pakistan High Commission staffer detained by Delhi Police on October 26 on charges of espionage, claimed that he had been provided sensitive information by an official of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
The claim had prompted the Delhi Police Crime Branch to scrutinise profiles of several ISRO employees, but after a thorough probe over the last few months, investigators have concluded that no such person exists. DCP (crime branch) Madhur Verma told The Indian Express that they have not found anyone from the ISRO involved in the incident. Akhtar, who was declared “persona non grata” after he was detained by officials of the inter-state cell while allegedly exchanging classified documents with three Indian agents, had claimed last year, in a video-recorded interrogation, that he sourced “sensitive” information from an ISRO official.
“Akhtar was detained from outside the Delhi Zoo and was jointly interrogated at ISC’s Chankyapuri office by officials of the ISC and intelligence agencies. Afterwards, he was handed over to High Commission officials since he enjoys diplomatic immunity,” police sources said.
At least 45 minutes of Akhtar’s questioning was recorded and on being asked about his informers, he claimed that he had been provided sensitive information by ISI agents posted at the Pakistan High Commission and an ISRO official. “Investigators later shared the details with the authority concerned and started scanning profiles of employees. But they didn’t find anything,” sources said.
Police have filed the supplementary chargesheet in the case, wherein they have stated that all classified documents that were recovered have been verified with agencies concerned. “We had earlier filed a chargesheet against the four arrested men, including Samajwadi Party MP Chaudhary Munawwar Salim’s personal assistant Farhat Khan. Now we have filed a supplementary chargesheet after receiving a confirmation report from authorities stating these documents are classified,” Verma said.
Sources said the investigators stated that the documents comprised details of deployment of the armed force in Sir Creek, the Army’s fire plan, and the position of surface-to-air missiles. Police claimed in their report that, after confirmation by authorities, it has been substantiated that the documents are classified and can be used to give another country operational advantage during a war.