The residents welfare association of Ganga Apartment, part of a large gated society in south Delhi’s Vasant Kunj, is planning to approach the police to get verified all tenants who have already vacated flats, following the arrest of a Chinese woman resident in an alleged case of espionage.
NS Mor, the RWA president, said, “Henceforth we are also planning to propose that a member of the RWA be witness during the tenant verification process when someone shifts to our society.”
“We had never doubted the Chinese woman during her stay here, but her arrest has come as a shock for all residents of the society,” Mor said.
Delhi Police’s special cell has arrested Qing Shi, the Chinese woman, along with a Nepalese man, Sher Singh, and an Indian journalist — all of whom have been booked under the Official Secrets Act for allegedly spying for China.
Mor said some Chinese students had lived in the society previously, but as of September, Qing was the only Chinese person living there.
Residents of Ganga Apartment said Qing and Singh were always “aloof”.
Rajeev Kumar Mishra, a security guard in the society, said he saw the news of their arrest on television. He said, “The chequered orange top she wore in the image was one she frequently wore while leaving for work every morning.”
“They never interacted with anyone. Whenever I went to collect the monthly maintenance charges from their flat, the Nepalese man would open the door only slightly and give the cash without saying much,” Mishra said.
The security guard said that earlier this year, the duo had disposed of a rickshaw full of some electronic items such as transistors and speakers. “It came across as unusual, but I didn’t ask them anything,” Mishra said.
Sandeep, who owns a general store below the duo’s second-floor flat, said his interaction with the suspects was limited to Singh shouting for drinking water from his balcony. “He would just say ‘paani’ and I would send a delivery boy. I always thought they didn’t know any Indian languages,” he said.
A neighbour who didn’t want to be identified said the duo was “very very aloof”.
“They were aloof to such an extent that her roof leaked for days on end about a month ago, but she didn’t raise the issue. Only when she heard me speaking about the same problem in my flat did she ask to keep her updated about any possible solutions,” the neighbour said.
“I always worried that the Chinese woman could get cornered by people due to the ongoing hostilities between India and China, but no one could have guessed that she could be working against our country,” said the neighbour.
Businessmen at the busy Mahipalpur market, where the duo had taken up an office, which police said they used to run an alleged “shell company” to receive funds from their handlers in China, had similar reactions to their arrests.
The company, MZ Pharmacy, was running out of the first floor of a three-storey commercial building. The pharmacy office is located above a cellphone store, adjacent to which is another pharmacy, which receives customers frequently.
The insides of the MZ Pharmacy office looked dark through the large glass windows in the front. Some bare wooden furniture was visible near the windows even as the shutters to the staircase leading to the office was found locked.
“I would see the Chinese woman and a man visit the office every morning around 9-10 am. I wondered if they were husband-wife or business partners,” said Narender, a staff member at the other pharmacy.
“The two would come together every morning and leave in the evening. The board outside their office said it was a pharmacy but they never had any customers. In fact, I don’t remember anyone else visiting that office in the last six months that I have been working here,” said Narender, who just gave his first name.
The only visible sign that the floor served as an office is a 15×3 feet green board that read MZ Pharmacy in English.
Qing, Singh and journalist Rajeev Sharma were arrested between September 14 and 19 after the special cell received inputs from a central intelligence agency about their involvement in the alleged espionage.
Sharma’s wife, who is a teacher, remained unavailable for a comment despite HT reaching out to her through phone calls and text messages. Sharma is accused of passing on “classified and sensitive” information to the Chinese.
His lawyer, senior advocate Adishi Aggarwala, has denied the allegations and quoted Sharma’s wife as saying that no “classified and sensitive” documents have been recovered from his home, contrary to the police version.
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