CBI to probe Major Gen’s role in security breach at VRDE

Prateek Goyal
Tuesday, 13 March 2018

An official at the CBI office, Pune, requesting anonymity, said, “Initially we are going to conduct an inquiry and if there is any substantial proof, we are going to register a complaint and conduct an open inquiry.”

PUNE: A complaint was submitted to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Pune office, on Sunday against the Director of Vehicle Research & Development Establishment (VRDE), Ahmednagar, Maj Gen Ajay Gupta, for allegedly compromising the safety and security of the defence establishment. 

He was accused of conducting a 30-minute meeting on February 15 with two foreign nationals and a non-resident Indian, along with officials of a private company, without taking security clearance from the Directorate of Vigilance and Security, New Delhi, a mandatory rule for all DRDO officials prior to meeting any foreign national in any capacity.

VRDE, Ahmednagar is a laboratory of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) which deals with research, design, development of specialist defence vehicles and is considered to be a highly restricted zone.

An official at the CBI office, Pune, requesting anonymity, said, “Initially we are going to conduct an inquiry and if there is any substantial proof, we are going to register a complaint and conduct an open inquiry.”

THE COMPLAINT
The complaint was initiated  by the security officer to VRDE, appointed by Army Headquarters in New Delhi.

According to the copy of the complaint letter available with Sakal Times, on February 15, at 10 am, the security officer, who is also an army officer, received a call from the security staff at Daund Gate of VRDE, informing him that two foreigners had arrived with representatives of a private company.  The caller stated they were asked by the personal assistant (PA) of the Director to be allowed to enter the complex. 

However, the security officer refused to allow them in as they didn’t have the necessary clearance from the office of Directorate Vigilance and Security HQ, New Delhi. Though Gupta pressurised the security staff through his PA, he couldn’t succeed.

The complaint states that at 10.30 am, Gupta compromised the security of VRDE and went outside Daund Gate, where he conducted a half-an-hour meeting with the visitors, which is a security breach and violation of instructions promulgated by the handbook of instructions on Vigilance and Security and Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). 

When contacted, Maj Gen Gupta said, “I did not conduct any meeting with those foreign nationals. They came to VRDE without any clearance, which is why I went to the gate to turn them back.”

VIOLATION OF RULE
A source in DRDO said, “Maj Gen Gupta didn’t follow the SOP. Details of foreigners, including their passport copies, are required for clearance. Even if you are meeting foreigners at their hotel or residence, prior permission is required. A DRDO official cannot meet a foreigner in any capacity without permission, because we deal with the research and development of weapons, as well as other products for our armed forces, and divulging any such information can compromise our national security.”

KK Mishra, retired Joint Director, VRDE, said, “Gupta himself was once director of Vigilance and Security, how can he commit a mistake like this? VRDE does research work on secret projects and there are possibilities that the foreigners you are meeting can be spies, that is why such strict measures are taken.”

A DRDO official, requesting anonymity, said , “Why did the director have to go to gate to turn back any foreign national and why did he spend half an hour over there? It is the duty of security officer or guard on duty to inform visitors to leave the gate area, and not of the Director.”

WHAT THE RULEBOOK SAYS
- According to the handbook of instructions on Vigilance and Security and Standard Operating Procedures, DRDO officials cannot meet any foreigner in any capacity without permission of Directorate of Vigilance and Security.
- Application for security clearance in respect of foreign nationals of prior reference countries should be forwarded to the Directorate at least six weeks before their visit, whereas for foreign nationals of all countries, it should reach the Directorate at least 10 days ahead. 
- Meeting with foreign nationals in DRDO establishments can be held only after obtaining security clearance from DRDO HQ. Interaction/ meeting should be avoided at DRDO guest house/ transit facilities. 
- No foreign national is allowed to stay at DRDO guest house.

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