New Delhi: Two officials of the High Commission of Pakistan in New Delhi were apprehended on Sunday by Indian law enforcement authorities on charges of spying, the ministry of external affairs said in a statement.
"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 twenty four hours," it read.
The statement further said that Pakistan's Charge de Affaires was issued a demarche in which a strong protest was lodged with regard to the activities of the Pakistani officials against India's national security.
"Pakistan's Cd’A 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," the ministry said.
Abid Hussain and Muhammad Tahir were caught by police while obtaining sensitive documents relating to Indian security establishment from an Indian national in exchange of money, official sources said.
The officials, working at the visa section of the Pakistan High Commission, confessed during the interrogation that they worked for Pakistani spy agency ISI, the sources said.
Reacting to the Centre's action, Pakistan said that the move was accompanied by a negative, pre-planned and orchestrated media campaign.
"The Indian action has been accompanied by a negative, pre-planned and orchestrated media campaign, which is a part of persistent anti-Pakistan propaganda," the Foreign Office said in a statement.
"We condemn the detention and torture as well as threatening and pressuring of the diplomatic officials to accept false charges," it said.
It said the Indian action is in "clear violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations as well as the norms of diplomatic conduct especially in an already vitiated atmosphere".
The punitive action against the two officials came in the midst of frayed ties between the two countries over reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir by India.
Pakistan had downgraded diplomatic ties by expelling the Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad following India's decision to withdraw special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcate the state into two union territories in August last year.
The sources said the two officials were handing over Indian money and an iPhone for providing them the documents. They initially claimed that they were Indian nationals and even produced fake Aadhaar cards, the sources said.
(With PTI inputs)