KOCHI: The probe into the theft of computer components on under-construction indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC) Vikrant at the Cochin Shipyard has assumed a new significant dimension with the National Investigation Agency (NIA) invoking major sections and re-registering the FIR.
While the Kerala Police had registered the case under petty theft charges, the NIA has included IPC sections 121 (waging or attempting to wage war, or abetting waging of war against the nation), 121A (conspiracy to commit offences under IPC section 121) besides sections 457 (trespassing to commit offence), 461 (dishonestly breaking open receptacle containing property) and 380 (theft) earlier charged by the state police. The NIA has also included cyber terrorism charges under section 66F of the Information Technology Act.
Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) sources said the NIA decided to take over the probe after considering the gravity of the case.“The preliminary inquiry carried out by multiple national agencies revealed the case was of serious nature, with espionage attempt being suspected. The NIA will look into the larger conspiracy aspect behind the theft. On Wednesday, the MHA’s counter-terrorism and counter-radicalisation division had issued an order directing the NIA to take over the probe. The NIA has been directed to look into espionage or terrorist hand behind the incident,” he said.
The NIA will record the statements of DGM who heads IAC project and complainant in the case. Besides, it will soon question the shipyard’s security persons and employees. The theft had come to notice on September 13, when Vikrant’s integrated platform management system (IPMS) was operated. It was faulty and the processor, RAM and hard disk installed in the computer system were found to be stolen. Six RAMs of three computers were also missing. So were three processors of as many computers and three hard disks. The stolen devises are worth `2.10 lakh.
Central Industrial Security Force and a private security agency were overseeing the security of the shipyard and IAC project. Even though the shipyard is connected with CCTV cameras, surveillance system was absent inside the IAC.