Theft on Vikrant: SIT suspects role of external elements

Investigators interrogating 1,300 workers at Cochin Shipyard, checking their backgrounds

Published: 20th September 2019 05:36 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th September 2019 05:36 AM   |  A+A-

Under-construction indigenous aircraft carrier Vikrant at Cochin Shipyard

Express News Service

KOCHI: The police Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the theft of vital digital devices from India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier, Vikrant, has begun extensive questioning of over 1,300 employees involved in the construction inside the ship for the last couple of days. Though a breakthrough has proved elusive so far, the investigators suspect an “external involvement” in the incident in view of the presence of thousands of migrant workers and a private security firm that provides security cover to the aircraft carrier docked at Cochin Shipyard.

However, the officers are yet to receive vital clues in this regard, sources said. They pointed out that a majority of the workers have been brought to Cochin Shipyard from across the country by the sub-contractors and a detailed verification of their antecedents is a herculean task.

The SIT under investigation officer ACP T Biji George on Thursday conducted a detailed inquiry, interrogating workers and collecting evidence, at the shipyard.  The officers are of the view that the theft would have occurred in the first week of September, ahead of Onam holidays. Hence, the employees who were on duty and those went on leave on these days have been put under the scanner.

Thousands of workers, including permanent employees, casual labourers and trainees, are taking part in the works on the aircraft carrier. The SIT has started recording the detailed statements of them.“Questioning is to be done extensively which is underway. The police are yet to get a breakthrough in the case but we are hopeful to get it soon,” said an officer with the investigation team. The shipyard authorities lodged a complaint regarding the theft at the Ernakulam South police station on September 13. Following this, City Police Commissioner Vijay Sakhare constituted the SIT, which is being overseen by him and DCP G Poonguzhali.  

Union minister reviews situation
Meanwhile, Union Minister of State for Shipping (Independent Charge) and Chemicals and Fertilizers Mansukh Mandaviya held a review meeting at the shipyard on Thursday. Earlier, the shipyard constituted a team to conduct an internal inquiry which is still on. When contacted, an official of the private security firm, entrusted with providing security cover to the aircraft carrier, said their employees are under the supervision of security officers of Cochin Shipyard and all of them are ex-servicemen.

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