A six-month-long investigation culminated on Thursday after Delhi Police busted an “espionage ring” allegedly run by a staffer with the Pakistan High Commission. Police believe the staffer was leaking sensitive information on the Indian armed forces in border states to the Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
Early Thursday morning, Delhi Police detained Mahmood Akhtar, 35, for questioning along with two others, Ramzan Khan, 50, and Subhash Jangir, 35, near Delhi zoo. Police sources said they had acted on a tip-off that Khan and Jangir were to meet Akhtar.
Akhtar, who was allegedly carrying a forged Aadhaar card, was questioned and released after he presented diplomatic credentials. “Akhtar is serving with Pakistan ISI and had diplomatic immunity since he is posted in the Pakistan High Commission (PHC) in Delhi. We verified this through the Ministry of External Affairs and, after confirmation and as per due procedure, he was handed over to PHC diplomats in the presence of MEA representatives,” said Joint Commissioner of Police (crime) Ravindra Yadav. Police said Akhtar worked in the visa section of PHC.
According to Yadav, Akhtar called Khan and Jangir, from Rajasthan’s Nagaur district, to Delhi so they could hand over classified documents related to the Indian defence forces to him. “The crime branch had been working on the case for over six months,” he said.
Police sources said Khan and Jangir, working on Akhtar’s instructions, contacted paramilitary personnel in border areas to glean information.
“They met Akhtar two years ago through a private visa agent named Shoaib in Rajasthan. Both were assured of good money from Akhtar for their services,” said sources.
“Information passed on included maps and deployment charts of border areas, several lists with details of Border Security Forces (BSF) personnel. A forged Aadhaar card and several visa-related documents have been recovered from their possession,” said a senior police officer.
During interrogation, Akhtar allegedly disclosed that he was on deputation to Pakistan ISI since January 2013 and was a serving Hawaldar of 40 Baloch Regiment of the Pakistan Army and native of village Kahuta in Pakistan’s Rawalpindi district. “There is likelihood of involvement of other persons as per the information elicited from him, which is being investigated,” sources said.Khan, from Barmer, had shifted to Nagaur 25 years ago and in 2014 met Shoaib who, police believe, recruited him to supply information.
Jangir, a resident of Nagaur, runs a grocery shop and was in the need of money as he was under a heavy debt.
“Khan was aware of Jangir’s financial conditions and lured him into anti-national activities. Khan presented him to Akhtar as a paramilitary officer so that they could get more money from him,” another police officer said.