Eight Indian spies masquerading as diplomats outed

Published: November 3, 2016
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(Clockwise from top left) Rajesh Kumar Agnihotri, Anurag Singh, Amerdeep Singh Bhatti, Dharmendra Sodhi, Jayabalan Senthil, Balbir Singh, Madhavan Nanda Kumar and Vijay Kumar Verma. PHOTO: FILE

(Clockwise from top left) Rajesh Kumar Agnihotri, Anurag Singh, Amerdeep Singh Bhatti, Dharmendra Sodhi, Jayabalan Senthil, Balbir Singh, Madhavan Nanda Kumar and Vijay Kumar Verma. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Wednesday busted a network of Indian spies ‘working under diplomatic cover’ in a move sure to exacerbate tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours that have been simmering for months.

Official documents seen by The Express Tribune reveal that at least eight staffers of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad had been identified as serving officers of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and India’s Intelligence Bureau (IB).

‘RAW officer’ arrested in Balochistan

Rajesh Kumar Agnihotri, who is posted as counsellor commercial, is RAW’s station chief in Pakistan, according to officials privy to details. Agnihotri’s mission was to disrupt the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), exploit sectarian rifts and handle splinter groups of the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

Another RAW officer Anurag Singh, officially designated as secretary commercial, was directly working under Angnihotri. Anurag was involved in creating controversies related to Pak-China trade as well as CPEC by reaching out to business communities in the country. He was also tasked with creating unrest in Gilgit-Baltistan, said officials.

Attache visa Amerdeep Singh Bhatti is also a RAW officer. His main activities were to exploit minorities, including Hindus, Sikhs and Ahmadis, to create trouble in Pakistan.

Similarly, RAW official Dharmendra Sodhi was working to cultivate the disgruntled elements in Balochistan. He was accused of facilitating disgruntled Baloch elements to visit India under fake medical visas.

Working as a staff member in the Indian High Commission, Vijay Kumar Verma was also identified as a RAW official, whose area of focus was Azad Jammu and Kashmir. His task was to create a propaganda network to malign the right to self-determination in Indian Occupied Kashmir, reads the classified document.

Madhavan Nanda Kumar, also identified as a RAW spy, was focused on spying on Balochistan-related matters.

Pakistan may expel two Indian diplomats in Islamabad for spying

The documents also claimed that Balbir Singh, the current spokesperson for the Indian diplomatic mission, was in reality an India IB officer. Balbir was working with Surjit Singh, who was declared as persona non grata by Pakistan last week.

Similarly, Jayabalan Senthil, who was working as assistant personnel welfare officer, was IB agent and involved in activities contrary to his diplomatic status.

There was no official announcement as yet about the controversy.

Vikas Swarup, spokesman for the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, declined to comment when asked whether the eight ‘diplomats’ would be withdrawn. But sources said New Delhi was likely to pull out these officials after their cover was blown.

Swarup also said six Pakistani diplomats had left the Indian capital on Wednesday but said they had not been expelled.

A senior Pakistani official blamed India for breaching the ‘understanding’ between the two countries regarding the diplomatic staff posted in each other’s countries.

The official explained that both sides knew that certain officials worked under cover and they did so with the full knowledge of the host country. But it was India which breached the understanding by blowing the cover of certain Pakistani staffers working in the High Commission in New Delhi.

Indian spy admits RAW destabilising Pakistan

It all started on October 27 when Indian police detained Pakistani High Commission staffer Mahmood Akhtar on charges of spying.

Akhtar was released because of diplomatic immunity but only after prolonged questioning for obtaining alleged defence-related material from two Indian nationals, who police there claimed were on his payroll.

He was working as visa officer at the Pakistan High Commission for over two and a half years but India claimed he was an ISI official. Akhtar was declared persona non grata and hence expelled by India.

Indian media then identified six more Pakistani staff members working in the High Commission as part of Akhtar’s network.

Once their names were made public, Pakistan had to pull them out due to security reasons. There were reports that India might implicate more Pakistani officials working in the High Commission on charges of espionage.

The diplomatic spat comes after months of sharply deteriorating relations that began with civil unrest in IOK and Pakistan’s global lobbying against New Delhi’s crackdown on the Kashmiri activists. Pakistan believes India is ratcheting up tensions with an aim to divert the global attention from the current uprising in Kashmir.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 3rd, 2016.

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Reader Comments (12)

  • Shakeel
    Nov 3, 2016 - 8:32AM

    I’m shocked that our authorities are sleeping. Don’t they know that these diplomats are guided by RAW and now realizing to expel them..this should be done long time ago..Recommend

  • kamal
    Nov 3, 2016 - 8:43AM

    I am surprised!! What else do Indian and Pakistani diplomatic are supposed to do. Pakistan and India are enemies and this is normal activity. Once you shed the charade of warmth and friendship everything is then crystal clear. There is a cold war on which can very quickly become a hot war, a really really thermonuclear hot one!!Recommend

  • wiserneighbour
    Nov 3, 2016 - 8:48AM

    Good.Now close down respective embassies in both countries.Its not worth keeping it this way.Recommend

  • Sid
    Nov 3, 2016 - 9:14AM

    yeah right.Recommend

  • Rahul
    Nov 3, 2016 - 9:25AM

    LOL Pakistan is doing it because they are embarrassed that their spies were caught by India so just to turn things around they made up this whole spy story. How come they “discovered” these spies only after India caught your spies???Recommend

  • Singh
    Nov 3, 2016 - 9:46AM

    “The official explained that both sides knew that certain officials worked under cover and they did so with the full knowledge of the host country.
    It is admission of guilt.

    strong text

    Recommend

  • Deepak Arora
    Nov 3, 2016 - 10:00AM

    I neither believe India nor Pakistan on such moves. Recommend

  • BrainBro
    Nov 3, 2016 - 11:20AM

    ALL diplomatic staff of ALL countries are basically spies/diplomats. If anyone thinks that Pakistanis do not do it or that the American/British/Canadian etc. embassy staff do not spy is pretty much stupid. These are childish games being played around. Recommend

  • Tyggar
    Nov 3, 2016 - 11:34AM

    Both embassies must be closed foreverRecommend

  • Sam
    Nov 3, 2016 - 11:50AM

    Why sending them back? Jail themRecommend

  • Parvez
    Nov 3, 2016 - 12:46PM

    The silence of our establishment on matters like serious security breeches …. and blanket issue of visas etc…..is not understandable.Recommend

  • Ali S
    Nov 3, 2016 - 12:57PM

    This is ridiculous. Both India and Pakistan are making a mockery of the diplomatic process, the world is in the 21st century and our leaders are still mentally stuck in the Cold War.Recommend

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