The NIA and the Kerala police forensic department are on the hunt for the thief or thieves who stole critical hard disks
Forensic experts in Kerala police are scanning finger and palm prints of around 1200 people, including Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) officials, engineers and non-technical staff, to find the thief or thieves who stole hard disks, random access memory (RAM) and processor from the first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) INS Vikrant, which is being built by Cochin Shipyard Limited in Kerala.
Designed by the Directorate of Naval Design of the Indian Navy, INS Vikrant is the first warship being constructed by Cochin Shipyard Limited. Many private and public firms are involved in the construction of the aircraft carrier.
The 2018-19 annual report of the Cochin Shipyard Limited, released in the first quarter of this year, says that the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) project has progressed well and it is in a very critical phase of the project with equipment being energised and commissioned and the setting to work (STW) of various systems underway.
“During the latter part of this year (2019) and early next year we are targeting to achieve significant milestones on the project. Major efforts have been put in and I am happy to report that discussions are at advanced stages to conclude the contract for the final phase of the IAC project,” Madhu S Nair, the Chairman and Managing Director of the CSL, says.
Once the IAC gets operational, probably by 2021, India will join an elite group of countries like the US, Russia, China, England and France that build its own fight carriers.
The CSL report reveals that the project is undergoing a critical stage and hence, the theft is a matter of serious concern.
Four hard disks, random access memory (RAM) and processor were reportedly stolen after dismantling four computers which were installed in INS Vikrant.
Till now, the date and time of theft is unknown. However, according to reports, the theft had come to notice on September 13, when the vessel’s integrated platform management system (IPMS) was operated.
“It was faulty. And the processor, RAM and hard disk installed in the computer system were found to be stolen. Six RAMs of three computers were also missing. So were three processors of as many computers and three hard disks. The stolen devises are worth 2.10 lakh,” the report adds.
Following that, the CSL had lodged a complaint at South Kochi police station and the Kerala police had formed a Special Investigation Team to probe the case.
“We have got 12 finger and palm prints from the crime scene. The thief or thieves have used screwdrivers to unlock the computer’s central processing unit. While we are scanning 1200 finger and palm prints to find the suspects, we have been told by National Investigation Agency (NIA) to scan some 2000 more finger and palm prints,” the official who requested anonymity, said.
According to the official, the stolen hard disks reportedly have sensitive data about the Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS).
“It is a computerised system used onboard ships to monitor the working and course of the vessel and to warn against safety risks. If the culprits can crack the system, then they can even sink the vessel,” the official added.
According to the CSL annual report, trials of part of IPMS (Integrated Platform Management System) were commenced.
A week after the Kerala police investigation, the NIA had taken over the case.
Meanwhile, there were reports that considering the gravity of the case, the NIA had re-registered the case by including sections of waging or attempting to wage war or abetting waging of war against the nation.
The report added that the NIA has included IPC Sections 121 (waging or attempting to wage war, or abetting waging of war against the nation), 121A (conspiracy to commit offences under IPC section 121), besides Sections 457 (trespassing to commit offence), 461 (dishonestly breaking open receptacle containing property) and 380 (theft) that was earlier charged by the Kerala police.
The agency has also included cyber terrorism charges under Section 66F of the Information Technology Act in the case.
The theft has happened even when special security attention was accorded to the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC).
According to the CSL report, all security systems and measures introduced and installed in the company were of international standards.
“Periodic joint survey was conducted by the CSL and CISF. Twenty-four hours waterfront patrolling in a dedicated speed boat with armed personnel and wireless surveillance (CCTV) system covering all critical locations and installations are in place,” the CSL report adds.
Till March 31, the CSL has got 175,676.28 lakhs from the operations of IAC project.