Kochi: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Wednesday said it has arrested two persons in connection with the theft of some computer hardware components from the country's first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) under construction at the Cochin Shipyard here last year.
The accused were identified as Sumit Kumar Singh, 23, resident of Munger, Bihar, and Daya Ram, 22, resident of Hanumangarh in Rajasthan. Both worked as painters at the Cochin Shipyard.
The two were arrested from their respective houses in connection with the theft of electronic components, including microprocessors and memory chips, reported in September, 2019, the NIA said in a statement here.
NIA, which had taken over the case from local police, said some of the stolen devices were recovered and "incriminating" materials seized during multiple searches in Bihar, Rajasthan and Gujarat conducted on Wednesday.
The agency said it conducted "a painstaking and a very detailed" investigation into this "completely blind case" collecting and analysing fingerprints and palm-prints of more than 5,000 people, who had worked in the IAC project during the period when the theft occurred, and examining a large number of witnesses. Further investigation was continuing, it said without divulging details, including about the duo or their motive.
The case was originally registered on September 16, 2019 at Ernakulam Town South Police station, on a complaint by the public sector Cochin Shipyard authorities. NIA re-registered the case on September 26 and took up the investigation.
According to NIA, the electronic components included five micro-processors, 10 RAMs (Random Access Memory), 5 Solid State Drives (SSDs) from the Multi-Functional Consoles (MFCs) aboard the Ship. The MFCs form part of Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS) of the project.
In March this year, the agency had announced a reward of Rs 5 lakhs to anybody giving any credible leads in the case.
The indigenous aircraft carrier, which has been in an advanced stage of testing of systems, was expected to begin sea trials this year.
Cochin Shipyard is the largest shipbuilding and maintenance facility in India.
The work on INS Vikrant's design began in 1999, and the keel was laid in February 2009. The ship is expected to start sea trials in February 2021 and enter into service as early as 2023. The project cost has neared Rs 20,000 crore.
With the completion of INS Vikrant, India will join the ranks of US, England, Russia, France and China in the construction of flight carriers.