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No proposal to reduce Indian mission strength in Islamabad: Government

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> There is no proposal to reduce the strength of Indian High Commission in Islamabad, the government said on Wednesday. Eight Indian officials have come back in the last two months after Pakistan levelled “baseless allegations” against them and endangered their safety and security by making their identity public. The “baseless allegation by Pakistan against these officials followed Pakistan’s decision to withdraw six Pakistani diplomats reportedly named by Mehmood Akhtar, who was apprehended by Indian law enforcement authorities on October 27, 2016 while indulging in anti-India activities,” Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh said in a written reply in Lok Sabha. “The positions falling vacant in the Indian High Commission, Islamabad consequent to the return of the aforementioned eight officials to India are to be filled through normal administrative process. There is no proposal with the government to reduce the strength of the High Commission,” Singh said.Singh also said while change in the leadership of Pakistan’s State institutions, including its army is an internal matter, there has been a sustained escalation this year of cross-border terrorism and infiltration of armed terrorists across IB and LoC tasked to carry out terror acts in Jammu and Kashmir and elsewhere in India. He was asked whether heightened diplomatic and border tension between the two countries is a creation by ISI to dictate its terms in the matter of succession to its current chief.The minister further said the government has reminded Pakistan through military and diplomatic channels about its responsibility to stop all terrorism directed against India, emanating from territories under Pakistan’s control.

Pakistan: Two more Indian High Commission officials leave for India

Pakistan: Two more Indian High Commission officials leave for India

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Islamabad: Two more Indian High Commission officials, out of the eight accused by Pakistan of being members of Indian intelligence agencies, on Thursday left for India.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

“Balbir Singh and Jayabalan Senthil left via Dubai-bound Emirates flight EK 615,” sources said.

Both the staffers were named as undercover agents of Indian intelligence agencies. With this, the number of Indian High Commission officials leaving Pakistan has reached five.

Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria last week had alleged that several Indian diplomats and staffers were involved in “coordinating terrorist and subversive activities in Pakistan under the garb of diplomatic assignments”.

Last month, Pakistan had declared Indian High Commission official Surjeet Singh ‘persona non-grata’ after India’s action against Pakistan High Commission official Mehmood Akhtar following Indian police’s busting of an ISI-run spy ring.

On 2 November, Pakistan had pulled out six of its officials in the wake of the spy scandal.

Pakistan expels Indian diplomats Rajesh Agnihotri, Balbir Singh from the country

Pakistan expels Indian diplomats Rajesh Agnihotri, Balbir Singh from the country

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Islamabad: Pakistan has asked two officials of the Indian High Commission to leave the country for their alleged involvement in subversive activities, a local Pakistan media report said on Wednesday. The news was confirmed by CNN-News18.

File photo of Pakistan Prime MInister Nawaz Sharif. ReutersFile photo of Pakistan Prime MInister Nawaz Sharif. Reuters

File photo of Pakistan Prime MInister Nawaz Sharif. Reuters

While Geo TV reported that commercial counsellor Rajesh Agnihotri and press counsellor Balbir Singh may be expelled, CNN-News18 confirmed that the mission staff were asked to leave the country.

Citing sources, the channel claimed that Agnihotri was directly linked with RAW while Singh was working for Intelligence Bureau (IB) and they were allegedly using their positions in Pakistan as cover to hide their real identities.

It claimed Singh was also running a network of militants in Pakistan and expelled High Commission official Surgeet Singh was also part of his network.

The development came after reports that Pakistan may call back at least four officials at its High Commission in India after they were named in a recorded statement of Mehmood Akhtar who was briefly detained and then expelled by India.

They include commercial counsellor Syed Furrukh Habib and first secretaries Khadim Hussain, Mudassir Cheema and Shahid Iqbal.

There were no immediate comments from the Indian High Commission about the reports.

With inputs from PTI

Guess who headed the Pak spy ring?

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The reverberations of the Pakistani spy ring saga continue to impact New Delhi and Islamabad. What has baffled intelligence agencies in India is that the person in-charge of India-Pakistan trade relations has turned out to be a top Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) officer and chief of intelligence operations in India.This came to light after the interrogation of Mehmood Akhtar last week. Akhtar, an ISI officer and Pakistani High Commission staffer, was part of the spy ring.Intelligence officers said that the top ISI officer, Syed Furrukh Habib, was posted as Commercial Counsellor in the Pakistani High Commission. This is a big worry for India’s intelligence officials as it shows that Pakistan has even made trade as a means to gather intelligence.Intelligence agencies say that the other ISI officers in the spy ring are Khadim Huss­ain, Mudassir Cheema and Shahid Iqbal. They are all working in the Pakistani High Commission.New Delhi is now mounting pressure on Islamabad, demanding the immediate removal of these four ISI officers from the Pakistani High Commission. Top intelligence officers said that these officers were running an espionage network under the guise of doing other jobs.As per a diplomatic arrangement between two countries, only one intelligence sleuth can be posted in their respective missions.Akhtar had been caught along with Indian agents but could not be arrested as he enjoyed diplomatic immunity. He was declared persona non grata and was sent back to Pakistan. The Delhi Police had also arrested four Indians who were part of the spy network.Sources say that as a bait to extract information from Akhtar, he was told that he would neither be arrested nor anything would be disclosed to the Pakistan High Commission.”He was made to sit at ease, and he was promised that his confession would not be shared and his arrest will be kept secret. Upon this, he disclosed almost all the underhand dealings of the mission and their agents around,” said an intelligence official.Sources say that Pakistani officials were irked at Akhtar for spilling the beans and he was even roughed up when handed over to the Pakistani High Commission. In Pakistan, he has become a target for blowing the cover of other officials. Akhtar has told Pakistani newspapers that he had given the statement under duress.Indian officials counter his claims. They said that his interrogation was video-graphed when he spilled the beans. Officials also claim that Akhtar had named 16 other “staffers” who were in the espionage ring. Crime Branch teams are raiding various places in Rajasthan to apprehend locals who were providing confidential documents and information to Akhtar.Two teams of the Crime Branch are currently in Rajasthan along with the Indian nationals who have been arrested— Maulana Ramzan, Subhash Jangir and Shoaib—to seek details of the paramilitary personnel who might have leaked information, sources said. Two other persons have also been detained in Rajasthan and are currently being questioned, said the officer.Reacting to the Pakistani spy ring, senior BJP leader Shrikant Sharma said: “The reality is that the High Commission here has become an ISI den. It is breaking all rules and laws…Its work is no longer diplomatic. It has become a centre of smuggling information from here to there (Pakistan).”

Espionage case: After Mehmood Akhtar, Delhi Police detains PA of Samajwadi Party Rajya Sabha MP

Espionage case: After Mehmood Akhtar, Delhi Police detains PA of Samajwadi Party Rajya Sabha MP

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New Delhi: Personal assistant of a Samajwadi Party’s Rajya Sabha MP has been detained by Delhi Police in connection with the espionage racket in which a Pakistan High Commission staffer was expelled from the country and three persons were arrested.

Farhat, the PA of SP’s Rajya Sabha MP Munabbar Saleem, was detained on Friday night, said a senior Crime Branch officer, adding his interrogation is underway.

Delhi Police is also trying to nab other members of the racket who, it believes, were in close contact with Pakistan High Commission staffer Mehmood Akhtar who was caught receiving secret documents here on 26 October.

Two others, Maulana Ramzan and Subhash Jangir, residents of Nagaur, Rajasthan, were held along with Akhtar. Another accused Sohaib was detained in Jodhpur and brought to Delhi by
the police where he was arrested.

Pak spy Mehmood Akhtar was trying to get info to carry out possible terror strike: Official

New Delhi: Mehmood Akhtar, the Pakistan High Commission official who was caught for espionage, was trying to gather classified information on deployment of Indian security forces along the western coast, possibly to carry out a strike similar to the 2008 Mumbai terror attack.

New Delhi: Copy of the forged Aadhar card of Pakistan High Commission staffer Mehmood Akhtar who used to hire spies to get sensitive information and documents related to Army deployment from a spy network he had created. PTI

Copy of the forged Aadhar card of Pakistan High Commission staffer Mehmood Akhtar. PTI

Akhtar was trying to gather information pertaining to deployment of security forces along the western coast, Sir Creek and Kutch areas and also about military installations in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Goa, a Home Ministry official said.

“There have been intelligence inputs that Pakistan’s ISI was planning to send terrorists through the sea route to carry out a Mumbai-type terror attack in India. Akhtar’s activities and his interests to gather information about the western coast buttress the intelligence inputs,” the official said.

166 people lost their lives when 10 terrorists, who came through the Arabian sea from Karachi, carried out mayhem for three days in Mumbai in November 2008.

Maulana Ramzan and Subhash Jangir were handing over information to Akhtar about security forces deployment in the Sir Creek area and Kutch region when they were arrested yesterday.

The Pakistani official was to hand over the duo Rs 50,000 for getting information, the official said.

Before being let off because of diplomatic immunity, Akhtar confessed to police about his role in the spy ring. Delhi Police has also done video-recording of his statement.

In his statement to police, Akhtar admitted that he was part of the spy ring for more than a year.

He has named a few officers of the Pakistani High Commission whom he was reporting to with all the information but police were yet to take action against them as there was no direct evidence as of now.

Acting on a tip-off, Delhi Police yesterday nabbed Akhtar, along with Ramzan and Jangir, at Delhi Zoo while a visa agent from Rajasthan, Shoaib, had managed to escape.

Shoaib was detained near Jodhpur last evening and after being brought here, he was arrested.

While Akhtar was yesterday declared persona non grata, Subhash and Maulana have been arrested on charges of passing on sensitive information and defence documents and deployment details of BSF along the Indo-Pak border. They were yesterday sent to 12-day police custody.

Pak spy Mehmood Akhtar was trying to get info to carry out terror strike in India: Official

New Delhi: Mehmood Akhtar, the Pakistan High Commission official who was caught for espionage, was trying to gather classified information on deployment of Indian security forces along the western coast, possibly to carry out a strike similar to the 2008 Mumbai terror attack.

New Delhi: Copy of the forged Aadhar card of Pakistan High Commission staffer Mehmood Akhtar who used to hire spies to get sensitive information and documents related to Army deployment from a spy network he had created. PTI

Copy of the forged Aadhar card of Pakistan High Commission staffer Mehmood Akhtar. PTI

Akhtar was trying to gather information pertaining to deployment of security forces along the western coast, Sir Creek and Kutch areas and also about military installations in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Goa, a Home Ministry official said.

“There have been intelligence inputs that Pakistan’s ISI was planning to send terrorists through the sea route to carry out a Mumbai-type terror attack in India. Akhtar’s activities and his interests to gather information about the western coast buttress the intelligence inputs,” the official said.

166 people lost their lives when 10 terrorists, who came through the Arabian sea from Karachi, carried out mayhem for three days in Mumbai in November 2008.

Maulana Ramzan and Subhash Jangir were handing over information to Akhtar about security forces deployment in the Sir Creek area and Kutch region when they were arrested yesterday.

The Pakistani official was to hand over the duo Rs 50,000 for getting information, the official said.

Before being let off because of diplomatic immunity, Akhtar confessed to police about his role in the spy ring. Delhi Police has also done video-recording of his statement.

In his statement to police, Akhtar admitted that he was part of the spy ring for more than a year.

He has named a few officers of the Pakistani High Commission whom he was reporting to with all the information but police were yet to take action against them as there was no direct evidence as of now.

Acting on a tip-off, Delhi Police yesterday nabbed Akhtar, along with Ramzan and Jangir, at Delhi Zoo while a visa agent from Rajasthan, Shoaib, had managed to escape.

Shoaib was detained near Jodhpur last evening and after being brought here, he was arrested.

While Akhtar was yesterday declared persona non grata, Subhash and Maulana have been arrested on charges of passing on sensitive information and defence documents and deployment details of BSF along the Indo-Pak border. They were yesterday sent to 12-day police custody.

Pak espionage racket: Phablet recovered from arrested spy Shoaib

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Espionage ring accused Shoaib was arrested after being brought from Jodhpur, with police claiming that he was in touch with the expelled Pakistan High Commission staffer for the last three-four years and had visited the neighbouring country six times.Investigators said they will try to recover data from a ‘phablet’ seized from his possession, which he had tried to damage when police in Jodhpur detained him last evening, and question him along with the two other alleged spies Subhash Jangir and Maulana Ramzan arrested in the case. It is alleged that Shoaib, who is a passport and visa agent, had been responsible for recruiting Subhash and Maulana in the module. “Shoaib visited Pakistan where his maternal grandparents live at least six times,” said Ravindra Yada, joint commissioner of police (Crime).He was in touch with the Pakistan High Commission staffer Mehmood Akhtar for the last three-four years, he said. Yadav said that some documents and a phablet were recovered from Shoaib.”There were some classified documents recovered from him. A phablet was also found with him. He had tried to damage the phablet so that the data cannot be recovered but we will try to recover the information,” added Yadav. While Subhash and Maulana had told th police that Shoaib was also present at the Delhi Zoo when they were handing over the documents to Akhtar, Shoaib told the police that he was present at a hotel.”He had stayed in the hotel while the other two went to the zoo for handing over documents. When he saw that the mobile phones of the other two were switched off, he sensed something wrong,” said Yadav. The officer also said that Shoaib will be questioned along with Subhash and Maulana to clear the contradictions in their versions. Shoaib’s family has a clothes shop in Jodhpur. He was involved in his family business and was also working as a passport and visa agent. Shoaib was detained near Jodhpur last evening after Delhi police alerted the local police. While Akhtar was yesterday declared persona non grata, Subhash and Maulana have been arrested on charges of sharing of sensitive information and defence documents and deployment details of BSF along the Indo-Pak border. They were sent to 12-day police custody. Shoaib had come in contact with Maulana around one-and- a-half years back and lured him into activities of collecting vital information about installations of army and paramilitary forces in Gujarat and Rajasthan, an officer said. “We had sent a request to Jodhpur Police about detaining Shoaib and last evening he was detained,” said the officer.

Top Pak Army officer handpicked Mehmood Akhtar for India spy mission

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mehmood Akhtar, a Havildar in the Pakistani Army, was handpicked for the espionage mission by a top army officer who was once in the race to be the Pakistan Army Chief. Intelligence officials told DNA that Akhtar was part of the 40 Baloch Regiment after joining the Pakistan Army in 1997 before being sent to the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) on deputation on the recommendation of a Lieutenant-General, who also happened to be the Colonel Commandant of the regiment.Sources said Akhtar was deputed to the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi in January 2014 after undergoing a three-month special training in espionage.Soon after recommending him for the ‘special assignment’, the Lieutenant-General retired six months later. This officer was in the race to be Pakistan Army chief but lost out narrowly, as he retired months before then chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani’s scheduled retirement in 2013.”Mehmood Akhtar was just a Havildar, one of the lowest ranks in the army but he had the backing of the Pakistan Baloch Regiment Colonel Commandant,” said an intelligence official.Akhtar was not alone. A senior who he reported to was also sent for the assignment along with him on the recommendation of the same officer, sources said. The Delhi Police also confirmed that Akhtar got his deputation to ISI in January 2013.”His interrogation disclosed that he was posted in Pakistan High Commission, New Delhi, for about two-and-a-half years and was working in the visa section,” said Joint Commissioner (Crime Branch) Ravinder Yadav.”He also disclosed that he is on deputation to ISI since January 2013 and is a serving Havildar of the 40 Baloch Regiment of Pakistan Army,” he added. Akhtar’s name was disclosed while officials were tracking other spies. “He was on special assignment and came under the crosshairs of intelligence sleuths recently, though other local spies were under the scanner since January,” sources said.

India busts Pakistan spy racket: Man arrested in Jodhpur for involvement

New Delhi: Shoaib, the Jodhpur-based passport and visa agent allegedly involved in espionage racket, was detained near his home town this evening, police said.

A Pakistan High Commission official, identified as Mehmood Akhtar, was detained for his alleged involvement in an espionage racket involving sharing of sensitive defence documents and deployment details of BSF along the Indo-Pak border with Pakistani spy agency ISI.

Two people, identified as Maulana Ramzan and Subhash Jangir were also arrested for sharing sensitive information and defence documents and deployment details of BSF along the Indo-Pak border with Pakistani spy agency ISI.

Representational image. Image courtesy: IBNLive

Representational image. Image courtesy: IBNLive

“He (Shoaib) was responsible for recruiting Subhash and Maulana in the module. He was detained near Jodhpur today evening,” said Ravindra Yadav, joint commissioner of police(Crime).

Shoaib had come in contact with Maulana around one-and-a-half year back, who lured the latter to join him in collecting vital information about the installations of army and para-military forces in Gujarat and Rajasthan, the officer said.

Yesterday, after getting a tip-off about the presence of Akhtar along with Shoaib, Ramzan and Jangir at Delhi Zoo, the police had nabbed Akhtar along with Ramzan and Jangir but Shoaib had managed to escape, said the officer.

“We had sent a request to Jodhpur Police about detaining Shoaib and today evening he was detained. He will be brought to Delhi soon,” said the officer.

Shoaib’s questioning is likely to reveal about the network of other spies who were recruited in the module.

Police has also got to know Nagaur-based Ramzan used to recruit locals which included army and para-military forces personnel to pass on information/documents, said Yadav.

He had introduced Subhash as a para-military officer to Mehmood for getting high money for sharing of important documents, police said.

Espionage case: Pak envoy Abdul Basit protests detention of staffer; denies accusations, say sources

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit on Thursday strongly protested the detention of the mission’s staffer for procurement of documents relating to defence deployment.The staffer Mehmood Akhtar, who worked in the visa section of the Pakistan High Commission, was procuring critical details from two other accomplices who have been arrested in Delhi. Akhtar was released as he enjoys diplomatic immunity, but after prolonged questioning by the police .”Basit strongly protested with Indian Foreign Secretary at the detention and manhandling of Pakistan High Commission staffer yesterday in violation of 1961 Vienna Convention,” sources in Pakistan High Commission said.Sources said that the High Commissioner asked the Indian Government to ensure that such harassment does not happen in future.Strongly rejected and denying the accusations, Basit claimed that Pakistan High Commission never engaged in any activity that was incompatible with its diplomatic status.Meanwhile, India has declared Akhtar as persona non grata for espionage activities. This was conveyed by Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar who had summoned Basit on Thursday.”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) RS Yadav told a press conference.

Police arrest Pakistan High Commission staffer with defence documents; Abdul Basit summoned

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delhi police on Thursday arrested a staff member of Pakistan High Commission for alleged possession of highly classified defence related documents.According to reports, police have arrested Mehmood Akhtar on a tip by the Intelligence Bureau.Akhtar has been remanded to Chanakypuri police station.The Ministry of External Affairs has summoned Pakistan High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit.(More details awaited)

Paradise on high as tourists make a beeline

Come Spring and the paradise comes alive with the tourists. Leaving behind the flood scare, tourists are making a beeline to the Kashmir valley after two consecutive lean seasons, bringing cheers on the faces of the tourism players.Official figures reveal that 2, 16,252 tourists arrived in Jammu and Kashmir from January 1 to March 18 this year against 82,376 in the corresponding period last year. The arrivals include 5,524 foreigners against 4,494 in corresponding period last year.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”This year we have had an early spring and therefore tourism season too started early. Be it Badamwari (Almond alcove) or Tulip garden, flowers bloomed early. So far trends are good and it (tourist arrivals) is very promising compared to last year” Mehmood Ahmad Shah, director of tourism, Kashmir, told dna.This year the Asia’s largest Tulip garden was opened 15 days ahead of schedule owing to the early bloom. Spread over 30 hectares of land, the garden located on the foothills of the Zabarwan hills is the biggest draw for tourists visiting Kashmir in Spring.Home to nearly 1.5 million tulips, the opening of the garden marks the beginning of the tourism season in the valley. This year the government has imported 4.20 lakh fresh bulbs which include 20 new varieties.”Usually the garden remains open for 20 to 25 days. Given the weather pattern we expect increase in the lifespan of tulips. Therefore our garden will remain open till April 21 this year,” said Talat Parvez, director of floriculture department Kashmir.This year the Jammu and Kashmir government has gone into an overdrive to sell Kashmir as an ideal tourist destination for the visitors. From holding road shows in different states to organising familiar tours, the government is trying to create a feel good factor and overcome negative propaganda which hampers the arrivals.Last year tourism arrivals witnessed a sharp decline after the rumours about another deluge spread across the country. Official figures reveal that 9.5 lakh tourist arrived in the valley in entire 2015.This year however the outlook is looking better with advance bookings touching 80 per cent for summer. “So far the arrivals are encouraging. We have 40 per cent occupancy rate currently. By mid April it is expected to shoot between 60 to 70 per cent. Our pre-bookings are at 80 percent for summer,” said GM Dag, president Kashmir Hotel and Restaurant Owners Federation (KHROF).

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