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Navy espionage racket busted

Wednesday, 27 October 2021 | PNS | New Delhi

Serving, 2 retd Navy officers and 2 pvt men  held for leaking sub project info

The CBI has busted a major espionage racket involving serving and retired Navy officials who were passing on sensitive information related to a submarine modernisation

project to private persons in lieu of bribes.

The agency had conducted searches at 19 locations in Delhi, Noida, Mumbai and Hyderabad and arrested five persons, including a serving and two retired officials of Navy besides two private persons for allegedly leaking the sensitive information

All the five accused are currently undergoing judicial custody.

The CBI conducted the searches following leads from the Intelligence agencies, sources said without revealing the names of the accused as a number of other suspects continue to be under surveillance. 

The accused have been booked under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, the Officials Secrets Act and Sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including criminal conspiracy.

The Commander rank serving Navy officer was arrested from Mumbai. However, the leaks reportedly took place in Delhi.

Following the arrests the Navy initiated a high-level probe headed by a Vice Admiral and a Rear Admiral.  The Navy was also co-operating with the CBI in the probe, sources said here on Tuesday.

Even as further investigations are on after the arrests last month, sources said here the serving officer was allegedly passing on information regarding the Kilo class submarine programme to two retired officers, including a Commodore rank officer.  These submarines are of Russian origin.

The CBI is also questioning some other serving officers, sources said, adding the possibility of the information leaked to some foreign countries was also being looked into.  More arrests in the case are not ruled out as the CBI is also keeping a close watch on some retired officials, sources said.

The probe agency is also going through the hardware and data accessed by the arrested officer. The role of foreign intelligence agencies was also under the scanner, it was learnt.

The Russian-origin submarines are undergoing major refits in India and are the backbone of the Navy’s submarine arm. Kilo class submarines, designed and built in Russia, are among the world’s most common conventional submarines and are currently in service in the navies of several countries.

In India, these submarines are categorised under the Sindhughosh class. To date, the Government has acquired 10 such submarines, all of which have gone through extensive modernisation, some details of which remain classified.  At present, the Navy has 15 conventional submarines powered by diesel engines.

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