Reflecting the current Indo-Pak tensions, a staffer of the Pakistan High Commission, described as the kingpin of a spy ring working for ISI, was detained by police for alleged possession of sensitive defence documents and was immediately declared persona non-grata today.
The staffer Mehmood Akhtar, who worked in the visa section of the High Commission and has diplomatic immunity, was procuring critical details from two other accomplices who have been arrested here, police said.
Akhtar was released after prolonged questioning because of his diplomatic immunity. "The accused were involved in espionage activities for over a year-and-a-half. We were watching their activities for past six months.
On a specific input, they were held yesterday. Akhtar is a kingpin of the spy ring," Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch) R S Yadav told a press conference.
Shortly after the police disclosure, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar summoned Pakistan envoy Abdul Basit to his office and conveyed to him that Akhtar has been declared persona non-grata for espionage activities, Vikas Swarup, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson said.
Basit strongly protested with the Indian Foreign Secretary the "detention and manhandling" of the Pakistan High Commission staffer in violation of 1961 Vienna Convention, according to Pakistan Foreign Office.
The Pakistani envoy also denied the accusations as "false and unsubstantiated". Police said that Akhtar initially showed an Aadhar card in the name of Mehboob Rajput.
"He claimed to be a resident of Chandni Chowk but after sustained interrogation, he revealed his real name Mehmood Akhtar," said Yadav.
"He is serving with Pakistan ISI and has got diplomatic immunity since he is posted in the Pakistan High Commission (PHC) of Delhi. This was verified through MEA and after confirmation and as per the due procedures, he was handed over to the PHC diplomats in presence of MEA representative," Yadav said.