In a first, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has put a Pakistani diplomat on its ‘wanted’ list and released his photo, seeking information.
It said the diplomat — Amir Zubair Siddiqui, who was posted as visa counselor in the Pakistani High Commission in Colombo — had been included in the list along with two other Pakistani officers for conspiring to launch 26/11-type attacks on US and Israeli consulates besides Army and Navy commands in south India in 2014. NIA said a fourth Pakistani officer posted in the high commission in Sri Lanka was also involved in the conspiracy.
The development comes even as the agency is preparing to send a request to Interpol seeking red corner notices (RCNs) against the Pakistani officers, who have reportedly been repatriated to Islamabad.
While the NIA charge-sheeted Siddiqui in February, the other three officers could not be identified. The two, who have been put on the ‘wanted’ list apart from Siddiqui, is a Pakistani intelligence officer who went by his alias ‘Vineeth’, and another official codenamed ‘Boss alias Shah’. This is the first time that India has put a Pakistani diplomat’s name in the ‘wanted’ list or sought a red corner notice against one, an official said.
According to the NIA, the Pakistani officers, while serving in Colombo from 2009 to 2016, planned to attack vital installations in Chennai and other places in south India with the help of their agents. Siddiqui allegedly hired Sri Lankan national Muhammed Zakir Hussain and others, including Arun Selvaraj, Sivabalan, and Thameem Ansari, all of whom were arrested by agencies in New Delhi.
After recruiting them, Siddiqui and the other Pakistani officers instructed them to collect information about defense installations, nuclear establishments and movement of arms and click photographs of such places, the NIA claimed. The Pakistanis also asked them to steal laptops of senior Indian Army officers and supply fake Indian currency notes (FICN), the agency said. They planned to attack the US consulate in Chennai, the Israeli consulate in Bengaluru, the Eastern Naval Command headquarters in Visakhapatnam and various ports, the NIA claimed.
The US shared key information with India in the case which helped investigators nail the Pakistani officers. The code name for the plot to attack the US consulate in Chennai was ‘wedding hall’ which was to be executed by ‘cooks’, a code for terrorists who were to gain entry from the Maldives into India. Hussain gave a detailed description of his meetings with various Pakistani officers based in Sri Lanka as well as two ‘fidayeen’ (suicide attackers) whom he had met in Bangkok. ‘Spice’ was the code name for the bombs, which were to be planted at the consulate.