People duck as gunshots are fired from inside the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai November 27, 2008. Photo: Reuters/Punit Paranjpe

Spymaster and Pakistan High Commission official Mehmood Akhtar was caught while trying to gather sensitive information from two Indian nationals about Indian troop deployments in preparation for a possible major terror attack similar to the 2008 Mumbai strike, according to a home ministry official.

Akhtar was collecting details on security force movements along the western coast, Sir Creek and Kutch areas and about military installations in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Goa, the official told the Press Trust of India news agency.

Previous intelligence information had warned of a plot being hatched by Pakistan’s spy agency Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) to stage a Mumbai-style attack by sending terrorists in by boat.

In November, 2008, 10 members of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba crossed the Arabian Sea from Karachi in inflatable speedboats to carry out a series of attacks over three days in Mumbai, killing 164 people and wounding at least 308.

Akhtar was to pay Rs50,000 (US$748) to Maulana Ramzan and Subhash Jangir for the information when police apprehended them at Delhi zoo on Thursday.

At first, Akhtar claimed he was an Indian national and produced a fake ID card. Later he admitted he admitted he was part of a spy ring that had been active for over a year. As a Pakistani High Commission official he has diplomatic immunity and is due to be deported on Saturday.