Lessons from 2019 theft in aircraft carrier still lost on Cochin Shipyard?

Two years later, Afghan national found working in highly sensitive area using fake identity

Published: 22nd July 2021 06:12 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd July 2021 06:12 AM   |  A+A-

A view outside the Cochin Shipyard | FILE PIC

By Express News Service

KOCHI: Even nearly two years after a theft was reported in the under-construction Indigenous Aircraft Carrier, it seems the Cochin Shipyard is yet to learn its lessons. For, an Afghan national has been found working inside a highly sensitive area there for over one-and-a-half years using a fake identity.

The identity verification of workers employed by sub-contractors is a matter of concern despite the fact that, in September 2019, two outstation workers had stolen computer components from the aircraft carrier. Work on the ship has entered the final trial phase.  

Shipyard officials said there is no security compromise, pointing out that it was the public sector company that reported to the police about a person with a suspicious identity working there. Later, the police found that the person is an Afghanistan citizen. There are thousands of workers under subcontractors and there is a system in place to ensure the security is foolproof, said an official. 

“The subcontractors are selected following tenders. We first found that there are differences in the name given by the accused person and reported the matter to the police. In the meantime, he went into hiding. We monitor the workers, including those arranged by subcontractors, regularly,” the Cochin Shipyard official said. 

However, the police maintain that the matter came to light after a co-worker tipped the CISF personnel deployed in the shipyard about the nationality and documents submitted by the Afghan national. “If there was no information passed from a co-worker, the Afghan national would have continued to work undetected. After the theft incident in 2019, we were told that the identity of persons arranged by subcontractors is verified thoroughly. A proper verification based on the document filed by the accused would have prevented such an incident. Interestingly, during the probe into the theft, he was working for the subcontractor,” said a police officer. 

In September 2019, 20 components — including five microprocessors, 10 RAMs and five solid-state drives — were found stolen during testing in the aircraft carrier. The NIA launched a probe, and after nine months, nabbed Sumit Kumar of Bihar and Daya Ram of Rajasthan who worked for a contractor at the shipyard. As part of the probe, the NIA verified fingerprint and palm prints of 6,000 employees after which the palm print of Sumit and samples traced at the scene of occurrence were found matching.


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