Theft from MHA a security lapse: Pillai

PC in, PC out: State of internal security revealed!


Pratap Vikram Singh | January 3, 2012

There are many red faces after a computer and a monitor were stolen separately in the past two months from the impregnable headquarters of the ministry of home affairs (MHA) in North Block. Former home secretary G K Pillai minced no words when he described the theft as a big security lapse.

“It is a security lapse, since no one is allowed to carry away hardware from the ministry’s premises. For most of the times the repair of the IT systems are done within the premises rather than sending the hardware outside the premises,” Pillai told Governance Now on Tuesday.

He, however, did not comment on the nature of data loss along with the hardware. “Things would be clear as agencies would discover the exact motive behind the theft, whether it was a pity theft for the hardware or a well orchestrated theft for data,” he said.

A Times of India report, quoting unidentified sources, said the authorities were yet to figure out the intention of theft and how critical was the data lost. 

In case any sensitive data has been stolen out of the MHA, it would be a repeat of the naval war room leak scandal of 2005.

The robbery in MHA was detected on October 14 from room number 213. But it was only on December 29 that an assistant, Ishwar Mahto, supposedly the user of the lost computer, reported the matter to police. In another incident, a monitor was stolen from the room number 214-A, which is office of Manjeet Singh, a principal private secretary on December 27.

According to MHA officials, the office clerk on duty in the concerned divisions is responsible for the IT assets. Usually, the office clerk locks the office before leaving for the day and confirm IT assets presence on his or her visit the next day.

Pointing out the possibility of a connivance between staff and security personnel, a senior ministry official told Governance Now on condition of anonymity: “There could be connivance between the office staff and the central industrial security force (CISF) personnel, since every person or thing coming in and out of the ministry premises is scrutinised by the agency personnel.”

K C Dwivedi, additional commissioner of police, Delhi Police, who is the officer in charge for the robbery case, and Ray Pratap Nath, joint secretary (administration and chief vigilance officer), MHA, were not available for comment.



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