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NIA files chargesheet against 2 for stealing hard disk from INS Vikrant

NIA files chargesheet against 2 for stealing hard disk from INS Vikrant

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Saturday said it has filed chargesheet against two people, arrested in connection with stealing computer devices from under construction INS Vikrant in the Cochin Shipyard Ltd.

An NIA spokesperson said that the agency chargesheeted Sumit Kumar Singh and Daya Ram under several sections of Indian Penal Code besides sections of the Information Technology Act on Friday at the Special NIA court in Kerala.

In September last year, theft on-board 'INS Vikrant' had surfaced. The Kerala Police had registered a case of criminal trespass and theft of critical electronic components installed on-board the indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC) following a complaint by the Cochin Shipyard authorities.

The NIA took over the probe on September 26, 2019 following national security concerns since sensitive information was stored on these hard disks.

The spokesperson said that after meticulous, extensive and scientific investigation spread over many states in a period of nine months, NIA zeroed in on Singh, a resident of Bihar's Munger and Ram, a resident of Hanumangarh in Rajasthan.

"After sustained interrogation, they confessed to the crime," the official said.

An investigation by the NIA has revealed that Singh and Ram were engaged as contract employees for painting work aboard the IAC between February and September, 2019.

"While working aboard the IAC, they had observed the computer systems functioning on the warship under construction and conspired, since May, 2019, to commit theft of the computer hardware components, for monetary gain," the official said.

The official said that consequently, between the second week of July and first week of September 2019, Singh and Ram trespassed into the locations aboard the IAC, where the critical computer resources were installed and committed theft of critical computer hardware.

This included Processors, RAMs and SSDs with data, knowing that the same pertains to the security of the nation and hence is restricted. During September 2019 the accused had sold one stolen Processor for monetary gain, before the theft was detected and the case registered.

After the theft, in late-September 2019, both left Ernakulam for their native places, along with the remaining stolen property, that was recovered after their arrest by NIA on June 10 this year.

INS Vikrant is the first indigenous aircraft carrier of the Indian Navy. The work on the ship's design began in 1999, and the keel was laid in February 2009. As of 2019, the ship is expected to start sea trials in February 2021 and enter active service as early as 2023. The project cost has neared Rs 20,000 crore.

With the completion of INS Vikrant, India will join the ranks of the US, the UK, Russia, France and China in the construction of aircraft carriers..