Leaks in ministries: Fresh arrest exposes new espionage racket
NEW DELHI, FEBRUAYR 23
On a day that President Pranab Mukherjee promised stricter government action against graaft, the ramifications of the leaks in the petroleum and other ministries widened with the Delhi Police claiming to have busted a parallel racket in purloined documents with the arrest of another individual.
“We have arrested one more person, Lokesh, who used to provide stolen documents of coal and petroleum ministry to some corporate houses. His arrest led us to bust another racket,” Delhi Police chief B.S. Bassi told the media.Lokesh, in his 30s, has been a former member of the multi-tasking staff (MTS) at Shastri Bhawan in the past.
He was produced before the chief metropolitan magistrate Satish Arora in a Dwarka court and was remanded to five days’ police custody.
Lokesh, who is currently employed with Noida-based energy consultant company Infraline Energy, dealt with documents being stolen from coal and power ministry and passed it to his employers, police said, adding the firm has a huge database of subscribers, both individuals and corporates.
Police sources said corporate espionage was not limited to the petroleum ministry as Lokesh also used the stolen information from the coal and power ministries for the company he worked for.
Police said that a second FIR has been registered against Lokesh and some other people as they were found to be part of another racket in which they used to provide classified documents related to the petroleum, power and coal ministries.
The sources said the Crime Branch got information about Lokesh during its probe into the petroleum ministry leak that was unearthed on the night of Feb 17, with the arrest of two former MTS employees of Shastri Bhawan.
Lokesh, who went missing a day after the espionage case came to light, was detained a day before his arrest Sunday. The Delhi Police team, meanwhile, Monday detained around eight people working with different ministries including coal, petroleum and energy from Shastri Bhawan. Police sources also said that they were on the lookout for Rajiv Singh, a coal ministry employee, a man named Jitender and also some of Lokesh’s associates.
More arrests can take place, including from the corporate and government sectors, sources added. A court here on Monday sent former journalist Santanu Saikia and three others to judicial custody till March 6 in the petroleum ministry documents leak case.
Before being taken to the court, Saikia told reporters that the Delhi Police officers took his signatures on five-six blank sheets of papers.
Saikia, who runs a web portal and previously covered the crime beat for several years, was sent to 11-day judicial custody along with Prayas Jain, a Melbourne-based energy consultant; and Rakesh Kumar, 30 and Lalta Prasad, 36 – both brothers and residents of Delhi.
The Delhi Police is likely to summon the seniors of the five corporate officials arrested in the petroleum ministry leakage case, asking them to join the investigations, sources said Monday. Police said that they are analysing the documents recovered from all the accused, with the help of the petroleum, coal and power ministries to ascertain their nature documents. The official said the Official Secrets Act (OSA) would be invoked if any secret documents were found. Those sent to police custody till Feb 24 are Reliance Industries corporate affairs manager Shailesh Saxena, Jubilant Energy senior executive Subash Chandra, Reliance ADAG DGM Rishi Anand, Essar DGM Vinay and Cairns India GM K.K. Naik.