NEW DELHI, Oct 27 – Indian police temporarily detained a Pakistani diplomat working in New Delhi for allegedly running a spy racket that accessed sensitive information about Indian security operations along its border, officials said on Thursday.
The detention comes amid heightened tensions between the nuclear-armed arch-rivals over the disputed region of Kashmir.
Delhi police said the man was caught on Wednesday outside the gates to Delhi Zoo, where he had met two Indian associates police believe he had recruited to spy for him.
The Indians and the diplomat, who reportedly worked in Pakistan High Commission’s visa section, were found with forged documents, as well as defence-related maps, deployment charts and lists of officers working along India’s border with Pakistan, police said in a statement.
“There was high probability that the information passed on by these anti-national elements to PIO (Pakistan intelligence operative) is being used against the national interests and could be highly detrimental for national security,” the police said, adding that they had been trying to bust the spy ring for six months.
Pakistan’s High Commission in New Delhi rejected the allegations.
“The high commissioner has further said that the Pakistan High Commission never engages in any activity that is incompatible with its diplomatic status,” it said in a statement.
India’s foreign ministry said the diplomat, who was later released under diplomatic immunity rules, had been declared a “persona non grata for espionage activities” and they had summoned the Pakistani high commissioner to make their case.
India and Pakistan have been at loggerheads since a group of gunmen killed 19 Indian soldiers in September at an army camp in Kashmir, an attack India blamed on Pakistan-based militants.
India said it had sent special commandos into Pakistan to kill militants in a retaliatory operation that sharply soured relations between the neighbours.
Pakistan says the operation never happened and accuses India of inventing it to distract attention from its crackdown on protests in the portion of Kashmir it controls.
Indian and Pakistani troops face off against each other along the de facto border in Kashmir – a region they both claim in full but control in part – and have exchanged fire several times this week in cross-border shelling.