Probing a spy ring that has led it to the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi, the Crime Branch of Delhi Police has arrested the personal assistant of Samajwadi Party Rajya Sabha MP Munavvar Saleem for allegedly passing on classified documents, including those related to defence and shipping, to Pakistani mission staffers. Police said Farhat, the personal assistant, played an “integral role” in the espionage and provided documents to mission staffers including Mehmood Akhtar who was declared persona non grata and ordered out of the country by the Ministry of External Affairs.
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Akhtar was allegedly caught receiving classified papers on October 26. Farhat, produced in a Delhi court Saturday, has been sent to police custody for ten days.
SP MP Munavvar Saleem, who hails from Vidisha, told reporters that he was not aware of Farhat’s activities. He said Farhat became his PA 11 months ago. He said he would extend all cooperation to agencies investigating his PA and his role in the spy ring. Saleem said he would write to the Rajya Sabha secretariat to take away all facilities from Farhat.
Farhat is the fourth arrest in the case. Earlier, police had arrested Maulana Ramzan and Subhash Jangir, residents of Nagaur in Rajasthan, for passing documents to Akhtar. A third accused, Shoaib, was detained in Jodhpur and brought to Delhi where he was placed under arrest.
Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch) Ravindra Singh Yadav said, “We have arrested Farhat and are trying to interrogate him and investigate properly since he had been involved (in espionage) for many years. On Thursday, we called him for questioning and found he had an integral role to play. We then arrested him”
Sources said Farhat was called by police after Akhtar named him during questioning. “Farhat told police he had been associated with political leaders since 1996 and had worked for four MPs, including the late Munawwar Hasan, MP from Muzaffarnagar who died in a road accident in 2008,” police sources said.
Questioned before being turned over to the Pakistan High Commission, Akhtar claimed that Farhat had been in touch with him for the last one-and-half years, and that he was told about Farhat by his former colleagues at the mission.”
“Farhat disclosed he had given documents related to the ministries of external affairs, defence and shipping to Akhtar. He used to get sums ranging between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 2 lakh in return for every document. He had even passed on Parliament questionnaires. He was in constant touch with staffers of the Pakistan High Commissio”,” police sources said.
Farhat initially tried to mislead investigators but confessed after he was confronted with technical evidence, including phone call detail records which showed him in conversation with staffers of the Pakistan mission, sources said.”
“In 1998, while working as PA of one of the MPs, he came in contact with Pakistan High Commission staffers when he went to the mission for visa-related work. The staffers there lured him in the name of religion and money and he started helping them. He even provided them annual reports of the ministries of science and technology, water resources and civil aviation,” police sources said.