Islamabad, Wednesday, November 24, 2010
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India grills official for leaking sensitive info from MHA
—Chidambaram embarrassed over intensive espionage in Ministry

From Christina Palmer

NEW DELHI – A close associate of the IAS (Indian Administration Service) officer, who was questioned on Tuesday in connection with alleged leaking of sensitive information from the Home Ministry, has been arrested while action against the bureaucrat was imminent on charges of "corporate snooping". The official Ravi Inder Singh has been arrested. He is likely to be suspended very soon and other action would follow subsequently, officials said.
A businessman from West Bengal, who was acting as a broker on behalf of Singh, a 1994 batch officer who was working in the home ministry, was picked up from a five star hotel last evening and subsequently arrested.
The businessman has been trying to make "deal" with a telecom company on behalf of Singh for providing security related information from the ministry in return of a few crore rupees, a home ministry official said.
The company's application related to security clearance in connection with Mobile Number Portability was pending with the ministry.
Though Singh was not in a position to give security clearance to any company, he could have facilitated such clearance by giving favorable inputs to higher officials.
Singh, working as director in the sensitive Internal Security division, was under surveillance of Delhi Police's Special Cell for more than a month and was detained on Monday evening following which searches were carried out at his office and residence.
"This is corporate snooping and clear violation of conduct rules. Whether it is a corruption case we are examining. He has not been arrested and last night he was allowed to go after questioning. Today he came back and is being questioned again. His property and bank balance are being looked into but no national security has been compromised," the official said.
Singh was handling almost 5,000 security-related cases in four sectors of telecom, mining, shipping and surface transport and it was being investigated to whom he was leaking the information (official), sources said.
The official's case has no connection with the recent conversations between the ministry and the makers of Blackberry.
Secretary (Internal Security) in the Indian Home Ministry Utthan Kumar Bansal described the incident as "very serious" and "matter of grave concern".
Bansal said Singh was "misusing" his official position for commercial interests.
Indian Home Ministry officials said Singh was using five mobile phones -- some of which were found in possession of the arrested businessman - while making conversation. He was also using coded words like Prasad and Laddu for describing money.
The Internal Security Division, where Singh is working, is considered to be the most sensitive wing and handles all crucial issues related to the country's security. This intensive espionage and constant leak of sensitive information from the Home Affairs Ministry has left the Indian Minister for Home Affairs, P. Chidambaram in a great embarrassing position.

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