New Delhi, Oct. 21: A fresh espionage row has erupted between India and Pakistan weeks before the foreign secretaries of both countries resume talks on November 14.
Delhi police yesterday arrested an army personnel for allegedly handing over classified documents to a Pakistan high commission official.
Islamabad was quick to deny the claim, saying Indian authorities had fabricated the spy story. It hurled a counter-charge, saying its staffer was illegally detained by Delhi police for several hours and was manhandled.
The police, acting on a tip-off from intelligence agencies, were looking for Lance Naik Anil Kumar Dubey, posted in the army group insurance scheme. He was arrested near Indira Gandhi airport while passing documents to Mohammad Farooq, a Pakistan high commission employee.
“The government of Pakistan lodged a strong protest with the Indian government over the illegal detention and manhandling of Mohammad Farooq by the Indian security personnel,” the Pakistan foreign office said in a statement.
Islamabad said the harassment of its official was a violation of international conventions and diplomatic norms.
India rejected the charge. Sources said the military intelligence, which is probing the case, has recommended that Farooq be declared persona non grata. It also wanted Islamabad to withdraw him from the mission.
Police officials said the Pakistani staffer was released after completing legal formalities and was not manhandled. Dubey, on the other hand, was arrested under the National Security Act.
Sources said it was unlikely that Dubey, given his rank and posting, would have access to confidential and strategic information. As a soldier working in the army group insurance service, he could get details of claims paid to soldiers killed in action.
The police, however, said the documents Dubey was allegedly caught handing over pertained to troop movement and deployment. They also claimed Farooq was an ISI agent.
CDs were also recovered from Dubey who, the police said, had been passing on information for the last four to five months.
The Pakistan foreign ministry said the spy story was a cover-up for the illegal detention of Farooq, who was allegedly kept in a police station “till 1 am without any reason”.
The row comes months after India and Pakistan expelled diplomats in August, following the Mumbai bombings that killed over 180 people and derailed the peace process.