By Syed Nazakat in Delhi
New Delhi was abuzz as the 2G spectrum scam threw skeleton after skeleton out of the closet. Meanwhile, a special team of the Delhi Police raided the office and residence of Ravi Inder Singh, director (Internal Security), ministry of home affairs. Singh was allegedly snooping for corporates.
The internal security division of the home ministry is considered to be the most sensitive wing and handles all crucial issues related to the country’s security. The raid on the director was so embarrassing for the ministry that it decided not to make any official statement on the arrest. Singh, a 1994-batch IAS officer, was handling almost all security-related cases in sectors like telecom, mining, shipping and surface transport. Home Secretary G.K. Pillai confirmed the raid on Singh’s office and residence. But he did not confirm the nature of the information that Singh allegedly leaked or sold. An FIR has been filed against Singh for passing on information on the issue of mobile number portability (MNP). MNP allows mobile users to change their service provider while retaining the original number.
Singh came under the scanner after a telecom company informed the home ministry that a broker had offered to get its work done. Sources in the ministry said Singh’s phone was tapped for more than a month before he was detained. The police also arrested his close aide, Vineet, from a five-star hotel in Delhi. A businessman from Kolkata, Vineet, has been allegedly trying to make a financial deal with a telecom company, on behalf of Singh, for providing security-related information. The duo are said to be old friends. According to the Delhi Police, Vineet had gifted Singh four mobile phones, which were used for coded communication between the two.
The special cell of the Delhi Police questioned Vineet twice and collected sleazy details. Though Singh was not in a position to give security clearance to any company, officials in the ministry say he could have facilitated clearance by giving favourable comments to higher officers.
“We deal with the national security and if one of our officers is found guilt of misusing his office or leaking information, that is a serious thing,” a senior home ministry official said.
As Singh was handling security related cases, including that of the Canadian smartphone-maker Research in Motion (RIM), which makes BlackBerry devices, his spying is seen a major breach of security. The government has been demanding access to BlackBerry codes for security agencies to intercept e-mails and chat services to ensure these are not misused by terror organisations.
RIM, however, has asserted that it has never met any official of the home ministry secretly and that it has no involvement or insight regarding the matter that has led to Singh’s arrest. As the police are checking his and his aide’s bank accounts and phone logs and collecting details about the people who have met Singh, the net is going to close in on him. Within the home ministry the biggest worry is whether he has leaked any information about national security.