Month-long surveillance, clue on copying machine: How IB sleuths blew lid off espionage network


A more than month-long surveillance of at least three junior petroleum ministry employees by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) blew the lid off the corporate espionage network involving former journalists, corporate executives and lobbyists, ministry of home affairs sources .

Seven people have been arrested so far in connection with the leak of classified documents from key energy ministries as part of an operation to sell information to energy consultants and private companies. They include former journalist Santanu Saikia who runs an energy portal. Officials said stealing of documents had been going on for  more than two years.

“The initial lead came when at least one document was seen lying on a copying machine at the Shastri Bhawan offices of the petroleum ministry in mid-December. Later, the information contained in the document was allegedly seen uploaded on the website run by former journalist Santanu Saikia. That’s how Santanu Saikia came under scanner of the IB,” said a home ministry official requesting anonymity.

Besides keeping a watch on Saikia’s website, the IB also increased surveillance of petroleum ministry offices at Shastri Bhawan, said the official.

“During the surveillance, it was found two multitasking staff employed with the petroleum ministry were going in and coming out at odd hours. The staff was identified in mid-January and they were put under electronic and human surveillance by the IB,” said another home ministry official requesting anonymity.

Saikia was later allegedly identified as one of the recipients of sensitive documents, added the sources.

One of the officials said the petroleum ministry offices were recently brought under CCTV coverage but the accused used to switch them off while stealing documents from the ministry.