The NIA is groping in the dark in the investigation that began in September
A high-level source involved in the probe of INS Vikrant hard disk theft case said that military intelligence may step into the case as it looks like the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) is also groping in the dark.
“So far, the probe is concentrated only on fingerprint scanning. And it is not leading us anywhere. So we heard that military intelligence may come to probe the theft,” the highly placed source told The Lede.
During the first week of September, a few hard disks, a processor and RAM disks were stolen from INS Vikrant, which is under construction at Cochin Shipyard Limited in Kerala.
According to reports, the theft had come to notice on September 13, when Vikrant’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 devices are worth Rs 2.1 lakh,” the report added.
Central Industrial Security Force and a private security agency were overseeing the security of the shipyard and IAC project.
“Even though the shipyard is connected with CCTV cameras, surveillance system was absent inside the INS Vikrant, which is India’s first indigenously made aircraft carrier,” the high-level source said, adding that thieves may have come from seaside.
Meanwhile, when NIA realised that the theft was of a serious nature, they took over the probe from Kerala police and 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) to the earlier charges 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 INS Vikrant.
And as part of the probe, the NIA had sought Kerala police’s forensic experts to scan around 13,000 fingerprint and palm prints of suspects listed, as reported by The Lede earlier.
“They looked serious in the beginning. They used to bring at least 100 to 150 suspect per day. But it seems they too have lost interest. Now they are bringing only two or three suspects,” the source added.
According to the source, since the investigation began in the third week of September, they have been able to collect only 4600 fingerprints.
And the fingerprint experts are not happy with the list provided by the NIA.
“They have listed and sent so far only steel workers. Interestingly, due to hardened skin because of their work nature, we are not able get a clear picture. The finger and palm prints found in the crime scene are very clear,” the source said.
“Everything is in a slow pace. And we are not scanning officers’ fingerprints. This is not going to lead us to concrete results,” the source added.
The forensic experts had 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,” the source added.
When operational by 2021, the vessel will be capable of operating an aircraft mix of the Russian MiG-29K and LCA (Navy) fighters being developed indigenously by HAL.
Its helicopter component will include the Kamov 31 and the indigenously developed ALH helicopters.