"Kept In Illegal Custody": Government On High Commission Staffers In Pak

The incident comes weeks after two Pakistani officials at the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi were accused of espionage and deported

'Kept In Illegal Custody': Government On High Commission Staffers In Pak

The two Indian High Commission staffers had been reported missing from 8 AM Monday

New Delhi:

The two Indian High Commission staffers detained by Pakistan police and released late Monday night, after being reported missing since 8 AM that day, were "forcibly abducted... kept in illegal custody for more than 10 hours", the Ministry of External Affairs said today in a strongly-worded statement.

The ministry also said the two staff members, both drivers, had been "subjected to interrogation, torture and physical assault, resulting in grievous injuries".

"They were video-graphed and coerced to accept a litany of fictitious allegations and concocted charges. The vehicle of the High Commission, in which they were travelling, was extensively damaged," the statement said.

Pakistan's Foreign Affairs Ministry had said the two staffers were involved in a road accident.

The government also said that the Charge d' Affaires of the Pakistan High Commission had been summoned and a strong protest lodged over this issue.

Shortly after their disappearance on Monday morning was reported, government sources suggested they were in the custody of Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).

New Delhi had filed a complaint with the Pakistani government and, in today's statement, said the two had been released only after strong intervention on its part.

"This premeditated, grave and provocative action... preceded by intensified surveillance, harassment and intimidation of High Commission personnel... was designed to obstruct and disrupt the normal functioning of the Indian High Commission," the ministry said.

Saying the government "strongly condemns and deplores the action", the statement rejected any "attempt by Pakistani authorities to levy false accusations and concocted charges on the officials of the High Commission".

The incident comes weeks after two Pakistani officials at the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi were accused of espionage and deported. The two worked in the visa section in Delhi and were allegedly caught in the act of spying.

Several top Indian diplomats in Pakistan have also been aggressively tailed in Islamabad over the last several days and India has protested against the excessive surveillance.

In March, the Indian High Commission in Pakistan sent a strong protest note to the foreign ministry in Islamabad protesting against the harassment of its officers and staff.

Ties between India and Pakistan have been strained over the past few years and have worsened with recent incidents of firing at the border and terror strikes in Kashmir.