Fresh arrest exposes new espionage racket

New Delhi


The Delhi Police Monday said it has arrested another person in the case relating to the leak of petroleum ministry documents, and thus busted another espionage racket targeting the coal, power and other ministries.

"We have arrested one more person, Lokesh, who used to provide stolen documents of coal and petroleum ministry to some corporate houses. His arrest led us to bust another racket," Delhi Police chief B.S. Bassi told the media.

Lokesh Sharma, in his 30s, was formerly with the multi-tasking staff (MTS) at Shastri Bhawan. A resident of Vijay Nagar in west Delhi's Uttam Nagar area, Sharma was arrested from Dwarka.

Sharma, who has been part of the racket for more than two years, had two forged identity cards of the coal and power ministries and copies of various secret documents in his possession.

Police said Sharma was also attached with the first module busted by Delhi Police Feb 17 night. He was also in touch with former journalist Santanu Saikia and Melbourne-based energy consultant Prayas Jain, to whom he used to provide stolen documents. Both are in custody.

During investigation, police found out that Sharma's father worked at one of the government ministries but have yet to identify which particular one.

Police sources said Sharma not only stole documents from the ministry of coal at the Shastri Bhawan, but also from the ministry of power at Shram Shakti Bhawan.

He was produced before the chief metropolitan magistrate Satish Arora in a court in Dwarka and was sent to five days' police custody. Sharma has been booked on charges of trespassing, theft, forgery, criminal conspiracy and receiving stolen documents.

Sharma, who is currently employed with Noida-based energy consultant company Infraline Energy, dealt with documents being stolen from coal and power ministry and passed it to his employers, police said, adding the firm has a huge database of subscribers, both individuals and corporates.

Police said a second FIR has been registered against Sharma and some other people as they were found to be part of another racket in which they used to provide classified documents related to petroleum, power and some other ministries.

The sources said the crime branch got information about Sharma during the ongoing probe into the petroleum ministry leak that was unearthed on the night of Feb 17, with the arrest of two former MTS employees of Shastri Bhawan.

Sharma was connected with some other people, who had relations with corporate houses who used the stolen documents provided by the accused to them, police said. He was taken to Shastri Bhawan Monday to recreate the crime scene.

Sharma, who went missing a day after the espionage case came to light, was detained a day before his arrest Sunday. On Monday, the Delhi Police team, meanwhile, detained around eight people working with different ministries including coal, petroleum and energy from Shastri Bhawan.

Of them, at least four belong to Sharma's module while the remaining are associated with the first module.

Police sources also said that they were on the lookout for Rajiv Singh, a coal ministry employee and also some of Sharma's associates.

More arrests can take place including those from corporate and government sector, the sources added.

Police said they had recovered more than 500 stolen documents from the possession of all the 13 accused. Earlier, police arrested 12 people, including a former journalist and five corporate officials, in connection with the case. - IANS