Three staff members from the Pakistan high commission were apprehended red-handed while trying to exchange stolen classified documents, in a joint operation conducted by the military intelligence and Delhi Police’s special cell.
The men — Abid Hussain, Tahir Khan and Javed Hussain — have been found to be directly linked to the ISI. The two men were declared persona non grata by the foreign ministry and were asked to leave the country by Monday morning.
In Latin, persona non grata means, literally, person not welcome, and from this we can infer the loan phrase‘s English definition. It means unacceptable or unwelcome, and it also works as a noun meaning an unacceptable or unwelcome person. Its Latin plural, should you ever need it, is personae non gratae.
“The government has declared both these officials 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 24 hours,” the MEA said in a statement.
India also registered a strong protest with Pakistan’s charge de affaires with regard to the activities of these officials against India’s national security. It was asked to ensure that no member of its diplomatic mission should indulge in activities inimical to India or behave in a manner incompatible with their diplomatic status.
An FIR under sections of the Official Secrets Act has been registered.
As per sources in Delhi the three Pakistanis were tracked down by cops when they had allegedly gone to meet a “defence personnel” near Arya Samaj Road in Karol Bagh to exchange some highly sensitive info. Abid Hussain (42) and Tahir Khan (44) were using fake Indian names and identity cards. They had travelled around the city in a car that was being driven by Javed Hussain.
Sources said they were under the intel scanner for quite some time after they attempted to contact and lure some defence personnel into espionage-related activities.
They were caught with some incriminating documents along with Rs 15,000 and two iPhones, one which they wanted to give to the informant. During interrogation, the men claimed they were under diplomatic immunity but were not found to be so. They claimed to be in touch with a number of people who were providing them sensitive information about military deployments.
The agencies are probing whether other staff members from the high commission were also involved in the spying racket.