New Delhi: Pakistani spy Mehmood Akhtar has confessed that there was a spy ring being run in India to obtain top defence secrets. Akhtar, who was an Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) official, working in the Pakistan High Commission, named 14 others who were working as spies there. The Delhi Police announced the busting of the network on Thursday.
Investigators said Akhtar’s confession has been videotaped. In the video, he talks about obtaining top secret files relating to the deployment of the Indian Army and paramilitary forces on the border.
Since Akhtar enjoyed diplomatic immunity, he was let off but has been asked to leave the country by October 29. Two Indians, Maulana Ramzan Khan and Subash Jangir, who worked for him have also been arrested. They will be grilled over the next 12 days.
Police officials have also revealed the role of women in the racket. “These women were used as honeytraps to extract information from officers and other groups,” said a senior police officer.
Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar summoned Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit and informed him that India had intercepted an official from the Pakistan High Commission, who was involved in espionage and that he was being declared persona non grata.
Intelligence sleuths have also seized coded army intelligence maps, details of deployment and military movement. “Documents in his possession have revealed the deployment of the army and paramilitary forces in Rajasthan and Gujarat,” said Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Ravindra Yadav.
Akhtar worked in the visa section at the Pakistan High Commission. He was in touch with another person, identified as Shoaib, who, along with his father, worked for Akhtar. Shoaib, who worked as a visa agent, was detained by the Rajasthan Police in Jodhpur late on Thursday evening. Officials say that he recruited spies for Akhtar. In fact, both Maulana Ramzan Khan alias Hazrat and Subhash Jangir were both recruited by Shoaib.
Acting on specific intelligence, the cops nabbed Akhtar, Ramzan and Jangir, just outside Delhi Zoo. The duo was to pass on sensitive documents to Akhtar. When they were apprehended, Akhtar used a fake name and showed a fake Aadhaar card in the name of Mehboob Rajput.
Ramzan (50) is a school dropout and came to Nagaur, Rajasthan, around 25 years back. He ran a clothes shop and also started working as an Islamic preacher in a local mosque ‘Qureshiyon ki Masjid’ in Jodhpur. In 2015, he came into contact with Shoaib, who asked him to join him in collecting confidential information about the army and paramilitary forces in Gujarat and Rajasthan. He was a resident of the border area and familiar with the topography.
Jangir (35) ran a grocery shop and their shops were close. Jangir was in heavy debt and Ramzan recommended him to Shoaib and recruited him.
Police recovered coded maps of army intelligence from Ramzan and Jangir, revealing force movements. Officials say that the spies were planning to set up a stronghold in north-western India, along the border areas, so that they would be better informed about the location of the various forces guarding the borders.
Akhtar was a Pakistan Intelligence Operative (PIO). Ramzan and Jangir had been working for him for a year and a half. They met at least once a month at tourist locations and exchanged sensitive documents. Each time, they received an undisclosed amount of money.
In a statement in Islamabad, the Pakistan Foreign Office said that the Indian action was accompanied by an extremely negative and orchestrated media campaign. “We reject the Indian allegations and deplore the Indian action, which is indeed a violation of the Vienna Convention as well,” it said.