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Cops blow lid off babu, corporate nexus

Cops blow lid off babu, corporate nexus
The Delhi Police Crime Branch on Thursday blew the lid off a nexus between babus and corporate giants to get access to secret government files.

Five persons, including two officials (clerical staff) of the Petroleum Ministry, have been arrested for leaking confidential and classified information to corporate houses, including Reliance Industries Limited (RIL).

The Crime Branch is also questioning two journalists, Shailendra Jha and Shantanu Sarkar, in this connection. However, the police are yet to officially disclose their names. “Raids are being conducted on the premises of RIL and one person has been detained. He is being interrogated at Crime Branch’s office at Chanakyapuri,” the source said.

“According to reports, it was a common practice for papers to get leaked and such things happened openly under the previous UPA government. But the new government has brought in some strict measures and the condition has improved,” said Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson, GVL Narasimha, also reiterated that those involved in the ‘murky affairs’ would have to face legal action.

A former bureaucrat told Millennium Post: “This is nothing new. Government officials, passing information to corporate biggies in lieu of monetary considerations, is something that has been going on for decades. This information is then used influence government policy that would ensure a windfall for corporate entities. Some of these entities also plant stories in media to build pressure on the government and swing public opinion.”

Meanwhile, RIL said that it had launched a “robust internal probe” into the detention of one of its employees by the Delhi Police. The company said no information of commercial consequence to it resides in the ministry with which it is in arbitration in several cases.

According to sources, probe into the matter started soon after the BJP came into power. Since then it was learnt that some confidential papers of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (MoPNG) were coming in public domain.

The authorities concerned, including the Delhi Police, were informed about the suspects. A government agency was also roped in to probe the leak of information.

“There was information that two persons, along with their associates, are involved in procuring, obtaining and stealing official documents by trespassing into the offices of MoPNG at Shastri Bhawan. On Tuesday night, a trap was laid. Three persons came in an Indigo car. Two of them went inside, while the third remained outside. After two hours, the duo came with some documents and a police team nabbed the three red-handed,” said Ravindra Yadav, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch).

They have been identified as Lalta Prasad (36), Rakesh Kumar (30) and Raj Kumar Chaubey (39). They disclosed the name of their other two associates, Ishwar Singh and Asharam, to the police. “Official documents, duplicate keys used by them for accessing the offices of MoPNG officials, forged ID-card and fraudulently-obtained temporary passes were recovered from their possession,” Yadav added.

The investigations further revealed that the stolen documents were being sold to some individual or private energy consultancy companies as well as to those in the petrochemical/ energy industry.

Also, the classified information was allegedly shared with corporate houses and had details of policies used for oil exploration, pricing as well as imports.
Chayanika Nigam

Chayanika Nigam

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