The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Wednesday arrested two persons from Bihar in connection with the last year’s theft of four hard disks and other equipment related to sensitive data from INS Vikrant, the country’s first indigenously-built aircraft carrier, which is being readied in Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL) for its commissioning next year.
Both the accused were engaged in painting job at the vessel two years ago, NIA authorities said. More details are expected later in the day.
Last September, the Kerala Police had registered a case on the basis of a complaint filed by the CSL general manager about the theft and later the probe was transferred to the NIA.
The theft had raised serious concerns over a security breach and later a multi-agency probe began, headed by NIA.
Four hard disks, memory cards, a processor, and other equipment were stolen from the high-security area after dismantling computers installed on the ship.
The theft came to light after the information technology (IT) system developed a snag. There was no closed-circuit TV (CCTV)-led surveillance mechanism since work was still going on at the vessel.
NIA authorities had collected fingerprints of over 1,200 people, including the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and CSL employees, contractual workers, and others.
The Central investigating agency had also announced a reward of Rs 5 lakh for any information about the theft, as the probe had appeared to have hit a dead end.
Several agencies are involved in the building of the aircraft carrier, which is considered to be one of the prestigious defence projects of the country. The theft had not only embarrassed the defence sector, but there were also widespread apprehensions over the pilferage of sensitive data.
The commissioning of INS Vikrant by next year will help India join an elite club of five countries, including the United States of America, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, and France, which have built their own carriers.