Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Leakgate reaches defence ministry, police grill staffer- Another Key Player Held, 8 Questioned

New Delhi:   Feb 24 2015 : The Times of India (Hyderabad) 
The leaks scandal got even bigger on Monday with police launching a probe into documents allegedly stolen from the defence ministry even as the crime branch arrested Lokesh Sharma, a key player in the corporate espionage case, and questioned eight others.In what will have implications for the country's security, police interrogated a defence ministry employee for more than six hours on Monday, highly placed sources told TOI. He has been identified as Virender, who is suspected to have leaked classified documents from the highly sensitive ministry and was in touch with some of the accused in the case.
With classified defence documents coming into the probe ambit, cops are likely to press for invoking the official secrets Act. Defence is the fourth ministry, after oil, coal and power, to enter the list of compromised departments. Meanwhile, police arrested 33-year-old energy consultant Lokesh Sharma, who worked for Noida-based firm Infraline Energy and was leaking documents from the petroleum, coal and power ministries, joint commissioner (crime) Ravindra Yadav said. Police are looking for the firm's owner. Cops believe Sharma not only supplied leaked documents to his company but also to other accused, including Santanu Saikia and Prayas Jain, and earned multiple profits in the operations, Yadav added. Saikia and Jain have been arrested earlier and hunt is on for other receivers.
A Janakpuri-based firm, idata, was also raided as employees of this firm allegedly bought documents from Sharma. Cops have registered a second FIR under similar sections in the case against Sharma and others, and are analysing the nature of the documents that were leaked from these ministries. A team led by additional CP Ashok Chand and ACP K P S Malhotra has been assigned to further probe the case.
Sharma was taken to Shastri Bhawan around noon where he led the cops to the rooms of employees he was in touch with to obtain government papers. Seven of them were picked up for questioning and were asked about their frequent contacts with Sharma.
Among those picked up from the coal ministry were Laal Babu and Ranjeet Mehto while Bhupendra, Amit, Kamal Kishore, Virendra and Surendra were questioned from the petroleum ministry .They will also be called for questioning on Tuesday .
Police are seeking to establish the money trail before arresting some of these employees, sources said.
Sharma, police said, was the son of a petty official at the petroleum ministry and frequented the ministry to meet his father as a teenager. He joined Infraline seven years ago and used his contacts in the ministry to steal papers.Some of the leaked information also made way to the firm's magazine, InfralinePlus, police said.
Among the documents leaked from the coal ministry, a major chunk pertains to coal block allocations and related note-sheets and communiques. Several companies, cops said, had demanded information on the allocations.Companies with a stake in the coal allocations are being scanned, police said.

Leakgate: Ministries to change locks -Cabinet Secy Calls Meet To Discuss Holes In Security

Even as Delhi Police widen the probe into corporate espionage, Cabinet secretary Ajit Seth has convened a meeting with secretaries of sensitive ministries like home, defence and finance as well as key economic ministries on Tuesday to discuss how to tighten access control at their offices and secure files containing classified information. The meeting will brain storm on the chinks in the security set-up across buildings housing key government ministries and departments, as borne out by the ongoing probe  into the oil ministry leaks, and discuss SOPs to be followed by agencies such as CISF to prevent unauthorized entry .

According to a senior home ministry official, the measures would not only include installing enough CCTVs to cover every nook and cranny of the ministry premises, but also 24x7 monitoring of CCTV footage by a suitably-manned control room.“This will ensure that if any attempt is made to breach security by switching off the CCTVs, it will be captured by screens installed in the control room, enabling the surveillance staff to raise alarm,“ said the official.

The maintenance of an entry log at all entrances to government buildings such as South Block, North Block and Shastri Bhavan will be made mandatory for security personnel tasked with access control. In addition, CISF personnel guarding key government offices may be asked to deploy personnel at each of the floors and not just the main entrances. This will ensure that an unauthorized or suspicious visitor is detected at the next level of check even if he gets through the main entrance.

A key item of discussion at the meeting to be chaired by the cabinet secretary will be how to limit access to sensitive files relating to policy decisions or containing classified information with implications for national security.“Guidelines may be drawn up to ensure that these files are handled only by senior officers and not passed on to lower staff even for transit. After office hours, they may be put away safely under lock and key , with a senior officer retaining custody of the key ,“ said an official.

Leakgate leads to extra vigil in govt buildings

Leakgate scandal is having a ripple effect on security at various ministries.CISF DG Arvind Ranjan on Monday instructed all force teams guarding various government buildings to be more vigilant and carefully scrutinize the identity of visitors post 5.30 pm.The instructions have been given in the light of alleged theft of confidential documents from petroleum ministry in Shastri Bhavan by former employees of the ministry. The building is guarded by CISF personnel who apparently allowed the `thieves' to enter the building late at night as they had flashed`valid' entry passes. These passes have now turned out to be fake. Sources said while a comprehensive revamp of security would be possible only after Delhi police completes its investigations in the case, instructions have been passed to prevent such leaks till such time.“These are largely general instructions for greater vigilance and alertness particularly during night time. Specific instructions could be chalked out only after discussions with various ministries as to how they want their offices to be secured. This would be possible after investigations are complete and clear loopholes in security are revealed,“ a senior CISF officer said.

Already discussions are on in various ministries as well as in CISF, which guards over 35 government buildings housing various ministries in the Capital, as how best to prevent a leakgate repeat. Regulating entry of people through extra proof of identity (beyond the entry pass), fixing the  number of hours a person can stay in the ministry and placing more security personnel on various floors of ministries to monitor movement of people are some of the suggestions being discussed. There is also talk of more CCTV cameras and biometric access control systems to be put in place in sensitive areas of various ministries.

(Source- TOI)

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