Woman official spied for Pak

Madhuri Gupta held for leaking secrets to ISI; another mission staffer under lens

Woman official spied for Pak

Madhuri Gupta. PTI

Madhuri Gupta, a second secretary in the press and information wing of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad, was arrested here, and another senior official posted in the Pakistani capital is also believed to be under the scanner of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) for his role in the espionage network. Gupta’s arrest has exposed an espionage network that has been leaking sensitive information to Pakistani intelligence agencies at least since 2008.

“We have reasons to believe that an official in the High Commission of India in Islamabad had been passing information to the intelligence agencies of Pakistan,” Vishnu Prakash, a Joint Secretary and spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs, told journalists in Thimphu.

“The matter is currently under investigation. The official is cooperating with our investigations and inquiries,” he added.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and several top MEA officials are in Thimphu for the 16th summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). 

Gupta, 53, was under detention and being questioned by the sleuths of the RAW and Intelligence Bureau (IB) ever since she came from Islamabad to Delhi last week following a summons from the MEA headquarters on the pretext that her services were required for preparation of a possible meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on the sidelines of the SAARC summit in Thimphu.

She was formally arrested last Sunday and produced in the court of the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate here on Tuesday. The court sent her to police remand for five days.

This is the first time an espionage network operating within an Indian mission abroad has exposed and an official arrested.

However, there have been reports about attempts by Western intelligence agencies to penetrate Indian missions in the US and East Europe in the past.

Sources said Gupta was working in the press and information wing of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad for the last three years and the main task assigned to her was to translate Urdu media reports for the High Commissioner and other senior official  in the mission.  

She came under suspicion almost a year ago when some senior officials of the mission noticed her “extraordinary interests” in areas beyond her main assignment. She was subsequently put under surveillance by the intelligence agencies.

According to the sources, Gupta admitted during interrogation that she had been passing on sensitive information to her Pakistani contact ‘Rana’, who is suspected to be an operative of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), for the last two years for monetary gains. The official is also believed to have told that she was not happy with her “service conditions” and alleged that she was denied promotions.

Sources, however, said that Gupta was not in a position to have access to sensitive information and she would not have been of much help to the ISI or any other intelligence agency of Pakistan unless she had been knowingly or unknowingly helped by someone in the higher echelons in the High Commission.

Gupta is believed to have told her interrogators that she had been procuring information from a senior official in the High Commission and passing them to ‘Rana’.

She was earlier posted in the Indian mission in Kuala Lumpur and was involved in publication of “India Perspective,” a magazine of the MEA’s External Publicity wing.

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