NEW DELHI: The matter relating to the missing secret files from the computer of an Indian Army major — posted at the Andaman and Nicobar Tri-Service Command — does not appear to be a simple case of hacking.
Suspecting that “a number of people could be involved” in passing vital information to the officer before this was `transferred’ to a Pakistani ISI operative, the government has asked the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to widen the ambit of the probe to find out whether there is a `spy ring’ in the armed forces.
The Major’s computer — which has been sent for examination to the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL), Hyderabad — contained nearly 3,000 files including detailed records of Army presentations as well as deployment plans of the forces post 2005. The Major is currently being questioned by a joint team of NIA and Military Intelligence in Delhi.
“How could the Major have all such clasified files in his computer which he should not have had in normal circumstances? It clearly shows that others might be involved in passing on such details to the officer from time to time,” said a senior home ministry official.
The role of some other persons is also suspected at this stage as tests have confirmed that an attempt was made to delete these files while the Major’s seized computer was in the custody of the authorities.
Did someone deliberately do it to skirt the entire probe? The home ministry official said: “This is what the NIA is trying to find out. The Major is being questioned by the agency.”
An Army officer, meanwhile, said: “It is a joint interrogation and probe. Let the final report come. We do not know anything about any deletion from the computer hard disc.”
The Indian authorities were alerted about the episode by the United States after some intercepts showed the picture of a brigadier, on a training course in the US, being dispatched to Pakistan from the computer of a user based in A&N; Islands.
The computer was traced to the Army Major who during his questioning said that it could have been hacked as he was using the internet. He was then let off and sent back to his post. Later the probe into the incident raised questions as to how the Major could have had such information in his computer. He was then asked to report back to Delhi where he is now being questioned by a team of NIA and Military Intelligence officials.