Former diplomat Madhuri Gupta, who had served at the Indian High Commission in Islamabad, was today convicted by a Delhi court for passing on sensitive information to Pakistan’s ISI and compromising national interest.
On January 7, she was charged under Section 3 and 5 of the Official Secrets Act for the lighter offences entailing maximum three years jail term, for allegedly supplying the country’s information (not related to work of defence) to an ISI agent during her Islamabad posting.
While framing the charges, the court held the information leaked by Gupta did not fall under the category of work of defence, as opposed to the prosecution’s case.
She was also charged with the breach of trust, criminal conspiracy and various other provisions of the Official Secrets Act.
In the style of classic spy novels written by Messrs Forysth or Le Carre, she was a lone wolf who was honey-trapped by ISI and passed off information to her Pakistani handlers.
Gupta, who was the Second Secretary (Press & Information) at the Indian High Commission, was convicted under Sections 3 and 5 of the Official Secrets Act which attract a maximum sentence of three years and fine or both.
She was arrested on April 22, 2010, by the special cell of the Delhi Police for allegedly passing on sensitive information to Pakistani officials and remaining in touch with two ISI officials, Mubshar Raza Rana and Jamshed.
Here are 9 facts about her:
1) She worked in the media section of India’s high commission in Pakistan’s capital. Reports suggest she was handsomely compensated for her services by ISI and had been lured in by a classic honey trap.
2) She had been described as ‘brash and fearless’ and was looking forward to a plum diplomatic posing in London or Washington.
3) She worked with the Ministry of External Affairs for 27 years where her colleagues praised her ‘intellectual acuity’ and she also showed a keen interest in Sufism. She had also begun doctoral work on the Persian Sufi poet Rumi but never completed her PhD.
4) Prior to Pakistan, she was posted in Iraq, Liberia, Malaysia and Croatia. Her knowledge of Urdu was one of the primary reasons she was picked for her assignment. Her main job was to scan Pakistani media and make two daily dossiers interpreting the developments.
5) She came under the scanner six months into her posting. When she joined the service, she was desperate for a posting in Moscow, but she didn’t get her dream job.
6) She was seduced, it seems by one of her handlers was reportedly a man called Jim allegedly an alias for Jamshed. The chargesheet contains an email to that effect, which supposedly carries proof her of her romantic entanglement.
7) In fact, when New Delhi woke up to that the fact that she had ‘turned’, they false-fed her information. She was arrested when she returned to India, ostensibly to help prepare for a SAARC summit in Bhutan that year.
8) An investigatory officer told Caravan that Gupta ‘willingly’ disclosed details of her email account and allegedly even agreed that she passed information to Pakistan agents.
9)In an email, she wrote that she was bewafa (disloyal) that Jim had a ‘strong objection’ to her socialising with Pakistanis and wrote: “Till we are married and till I am in the present job I have to behave and live accordingly but Jim has strong objection to my socializing with any Pakistani. Why does he have such a poor opinion of his own people? In any job that I take up this attitude of Jim will be a big hurdle. I am not used to just sitting at home in purdah. After marriage he will neither socialize himself nor let me socialize with anyone.”