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Petroleum Ministry documents leak case: Delhi Police arrests two energy consultants

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New Delhi: In a development that caused reverberations in political as well as corporate circles, the Delhi Police on Friday arrested two energy consultants in connection with leaking of classified documents from the Petroleum Ministry.

We have arrested Prayas Jain and Santanu Saikia in this connection. Both of them are energy consultants who received stolen documents,” said a senior police official.

While Saikia is a former journalist who runs a web portal on petroleum issues and has his office in Defence Colony, Jain runs his consultancy firm in Patel Nagar.

Both of them will be produced in court around noon.

The police had on Thursday arrested two Petroleum Ministry officials, a Reliance Industries (RIL) staffer and two other middlemen in the suspected case of corporate espionage.

In a case reminiscent of the spy scandal in mid 80s, more people are likely to be arrested today.

Raids were yesterday conducted at several establishments including a prominent building in Connaught Place which houses offices of a leading private petroleum firm, believed to be RIL.

Petroleum Minister Dharamendra Pradhan said that strict action will be taken against those involved in the case and they will be “severely dealt with”.

Delhi Police Commissioner BS Bassi had yesterday said that action was taken on a tip off that two persons along with their associates were involved in “procuring, obtaining and stealing the official documents by trespassing into the offices of Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas at Shastri Bhawan on February 17”. Notably, Shastri Bhawan is located a stone’s throw from the Parliament house and houses offices of several ministers.

“A trap was laid and three persons came in an Indigo car near Shastri Bhawan. Two persons alighted and went inside while the third remained sitting in the car. After around two hours, when the two persons entered the car, all three persons were apprehended,” he said.

“The car they were travelling in had an unauthorised sticker of the government of India,” he said.Bassi said the “secret papers” were photocopied after office hours by the arrested who used duplicate keys to open the offices after entering Shastri Bhawan on forged identity cards and temporary passes obtained fraudulently. The stolen documents were “sold” to an individual of private energy consultancy company and to those in the petrochemical and energy industries in return for rewards, he said.

“All those who are recipients of stolen documents will be questioned and action taken. If the documents fall under the purview of the Official Secrets Act, then the relevant sections will also be imposed,” he told reporters.

“They had been involved in the act for a long time,” he said, adding a case has been registered against the five for stealing, forgery, trespass and criminal conspiracy.

They were identified as Lalta Prasad (36), Rakesh Kumar (30), both brothers and resident of Delhi, and Raj Kumar Chaubey (39), a resident of Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh. Official documents were recovered from them. On information provided by them, Asharam, 58, and Ishwar Singh, 56, were arrested.

Reliance Industries said it has been brought to the company’s notice that one personnel has been detained by law-enforcement authorities. Launching a “robust internal probe” into the detention of its employee, the RIL said no information of commercial consequence to it resides in the ministry with which it is in arbitration in several cases.

Pradhan, who talked to various news channels, said that the surveillance at the ministry had been tightened by the National Democratic Alliance government and indicated such thefts had been taking place during the previous UPA government’s tenure.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala asked if the government will review decisions that had benefited the corporate houses due to the leaked documents.

He also sought to know how long this was going on and how many documents were leaked, while demanding that the corporate houses who allegedly benefited from the leaked documents should be named.

Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Sambit Patra said the government will get to the bottom of the matter.

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