‘Leave Within 24 Hrs’: India Expels 2 Pak Officials for Espionage

In a move that is likely to spark a fresh diplomatic row between India and Pakistan, Delhi Police Special Cell in a joint operation along with the Intelligence Bureau and Military Intelligence have caught two officials of the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi identified as Abid Hussain Abid and Mohd Tahir Khan during an espionage mission in Karol Bagh of New Delhi.

"On 31 May a specific secret tip was received that one Abid involved in procuring and supply of confidential documents pertaining to Indian Armed Forces would come to Gurudwara Road in Karol Bagh to collect some classified secret documents around 10:30 am", officials in an intelligence agency revealed.

They further added,

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Intelligence Officials also reveal that at the time of apprehension, some incriminating documents were recovered along with Rs 15,000 and two iPhones. Out of which one Abid wanted to give to one of his local informants. The Quint has also accessed a copy of a fake Aadhaar Card with a false identity of Nasir Gotam bearing Abid Hussain’s photograph.

Later on the night of Sunday, 31 May, a statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs said, "The Government has declared both these officials as persona non grata for indulging in activities incompatible with their status as members of a diplomatic mission and asked them to leave the country within twenty-four hours."

"Pakistan Charge de Affairs was issued a demarche in which a strong protest was lodged with regard to the activities of these officials of the High Commission of Pakistan against India's national security," the statement further read.

The Quint has also accessed a photograph of the official diplomatic vehicle bearing registration number 89 CD 106, which was used by the two ISI operatives in the disguise of being diplomats for their espionage activities. The windshield of the vehicle was broken while they tried to flee after being caught red-handed.

"An advertisement was given in a local newspaper a few days ago by Pakistan High Commission to make the sale of the said vehicle," an official part of the raid revealed.

In a late-night statement on Sunday, Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that it "condemns Government of India's decision to declare two officials of the High Commission for Pakistan in New Delhi persona non grata requiring them to leave India within 24 hours."

Last such incident had taken place in 2016 when a Pakistan High Commission official Mehmood Akhtar was arrested by Delhi Police for espionage and declared persona non grata. In a tit-for-tat move subsequently, an Indian official working at Indian High Commission in Islamabad was declared persona non grata by Pakistan.

Delhi Police Special Cell is currently investigating the case. Sources in the Intelligence agencies reveal that they suspect desperation among the ISI operatives within Pakistan High Commission to recruit informants in the recent past.

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