Initial interrogation of 45-year-old Farhat, the personal assistant of Samajwadi Party Rajya Sabha MP Munavvar Saleem, has revealed that he used to communicate with Pakistan High Commission staffers using code language, police sources told The Indian Express.
Among the mission staffers Farhat communicated with is Mehmood Akhtar, who was declared persona non grata and ordered out of the country by the Ministry of External Affairs.
“Farhat said he would use the word ‘pizza’ if they wanted to meet at Ansal Plaza in South Extension. ‘Coffee’ meant the meeting location was Preet Vihar, while ‘burger’ stood for Pitampura. ‘Pepsi’ meant they would meet in the same place as the last time,” police sources said, giving details about the interrogation.
Farhat, a father of four, was picked up from Saleem’s residence on Friday evening and was questioned by officials of the Crime Branch inter-state cell at their office in Chanakyapuri. He was arrested Saturday afternoon after prolonged questioning.
According to police sources, Farhat also disclosed that if he wanted to convey that he had got classified documents, he used to tell mission staffers: “Kaagaz aur kalam lekar aa jaunga (I will come with a pen and paper).”
Investigators said they plan to call a woman journalist, named by Farhat during interrogation, in for questioning.
“Apart from revealing the code language, he also said that there was a young woman journalist whom he met around eight years ago when she came to interview several MPs. He said they became good friends and he later introduced her to the Pakistan High Commission staffers,” police sources said.
Farhat’s name first cropped up in the investigation when Akhtar, in his statement, said that the two met near Mandi House Metro station and kept in touch.
Akhtar also mentioned the names of a few other people currently posted at the Pakistan High Commission but police said they are yet to verify his claims.
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Meanwhile, the investigating officer, while producing Farhat before Duty Magistrate Arun Kumar Garg on Saturday, told the court that Farhat has to be confronted with other arrested men to unearth a larger conspiracy. Farhat has been sent for custodial interrogation till November 8.
Police sources said that more people are likely to be apprehended in connection with the espionage ring, and more documents and other evidence likely to be recovered.
Investigators said the accused will be brought face-to-face with each other, and also taken to several places as part of the probe.