Pakistani spies Ramzan Khan, Subhash and Shoaib arrested by Delhi Police were not receiving a fair pay for gathering information related to the Indian armed forces.
"The amount varied between Rs 30,000 to Rs 50,000 per month. Each time, the spies would bring in a thick stack of documents, some of them useful, others not," Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Ravindra Yadav said.
Mehmood Akhtar, the Pakistan High Commission staffer who was asked to leave India within 48 hours for allegedly spying and stealing defence-related documents, allegedly asked his sources in Rajasthan and Gujarat to target men who were in dire need for money.
Ramzan Khan, one of the spies, teaches around 40-50 students at a mosque in Rajasthan's Nagaur district and is also an "Islamic preacher", the Hindu reported. He is also the caretaker of the mosque.
"He was being paid Rs 2,000 for taking care of the mosque and Rs 3,000 for his role as a teacher. That made him an easy target," a senior police officer told the daily. Ramzan's public image in the area -- close to the Indo-Pak border -- made him a potential "spy" as he had knowledge about the "topography" of the area.
"His visitors included many serving and retired personnel from the Army and the Border Security Force," the investigator told the daily. Shoaib was approached by Akhtar one and a half years ago asking him to collect defence-related information through contacts.
"Shoaib is a visa agent. He was operating smoothly in India since last three to four years. He has connections in High Commission of Pakistan as well. Shoaib visited Pakistan at least six times. His mother and other relatives stay in Pakistan. He has contacts across the border," Yadav said.
The third spy was struggling due to his failing business and, therefore, was an "easy prey". Ramzan approached him almost a year ago when he was running his grocery shop that was not doing well. They lived in the same area.
According to investigators, Ramzan introduced Subhash as a paramilitary officer to extract more money from Akhtar.
The three of them would meet in public places to avoid suspicion and use code words to communicate with each other. Ramzan and Subhash were told not to talk for too long and also delete their chat history. However, police said that some of their chats have been recovered.
Akhtar used his diplomatic immunity to leave the city to "make the deals" and also meet the spies inside the city. Akhtar would take an auto or a bus and not his official vehicle, the Indian Express quoted sources as saying.
The bank accounts of the accused are being analysed to check if any armed forces personnel received money, the investigators said. Police have also launched a manhunt to nab several Indians suspected of having spied for Pakistan.