The Centre said on Sunday that two officials of the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi were caught spying and have been asked to leave India within 24 hours. “Two officials of the High Commission of Pakistan in New Delhi were apprehended today by Indian law enforcement authorities for indulging in espionage activities,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.

The ministry said the Indian government has declared both these officials persona non grata for “indulging in activities incompatible with their status as members of a diplomatic mission”.

“Pakistan’s Charge de Affaires [Syed Haider Shah] was issued a demarche in which a strong protest was lodged with regard to the activities of these officials of the High Commission of Pakistan against India’s national security,” the ministry’s press release said. “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.”

But Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the expulsions. It called the allegations against the two officers “false and unsubstantiated”. The ministry also accused India of subjecting the officers to “detention and torture”. “We condemn the detention and torture as well as threatening and pressuring of the diplomatic officials to accept false charges,” it said.

The Pakistan foreign ministry claimed that the Indian action is a clear violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. The ministry said it has summoned the Indian Charge d’Affaires to issue a strong demarche.

The two officials were identified as Abid Hussain and Muhammad Tahir, The Indian Express reported. The Delhi Police Special Cell apprehended the alleged spies from Karol Bagh area.

“A team led by inspectors Umesh Barthwal and Neeraj Kumar received information that the men were coming to meet an informer to gather classified documents,” an unidentified police officer said. “The police team laid a trap and apprehended them while they were returning. Police are looking for the man who handed them the documents.” A first information report has been registered against the accused.

The police officer said the two officials were interrogated, following which they revealed the name of an accomplice, who was detained from Karol Bagh area on Sunday evening. The officer claimed that Hussain and Tahir told them that they had been collecting documents from informers about the movements of the Indian Army in Jammu and Kashmir. Hussain had even forged an Aadhaar card, the police officer alleged.

In 2016, India and Pakistan had expelled officials from each other’s diplomatic missions for allegedly spying. The same year, Pakistan said it had arrested former Indian naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav, claiming that he was a spy. Jadhav was sentenced to death in 2016 in Pakistan. His execution was stayed after India moved the International Court of Justice against the verdict in May 2017.