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HindustanTimes Sat,19 Apr 2014

Another case of missing army papers from Tezpur

Sanjib Kr Baruah, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, June 22, 2013
First Published: 22:34 IST(22/6/2013) | Last Updated: 01:01 IST(23/6/2013)

Soon after vital Indian Army war strategy papers reportedly went missing while in transit from Tezpur in Assam, another case has come to light where over 150 answer scripts for a prestigious army exam went missing — again from Tezpur, headquarters of the army’s IV Corps.

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The papers went missing in September 2012, necessitating a re-examination in November.

The examination was for undertaking a course in the Defence Services Staff College (DSSC) in Wellington, Tamil Nadu. About 2,500 officers of the rank of majors and lieutenant colonels appear for the exam every year. Completing the course is of vital importance for advancement in an officer’s career. “This is the only competitive exam in an officer’s service career, and determines future commanders,” a senior officer said.

After conducting a Court of Inquiry (CoI) into the incident, the army blamed it on the airlines ferrying the papers.

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“The inquiry found that the airlines misplaced the bags. To obviate such problems, a standard operating procedure has been put in place to move the answer sheets with an escort,” the army responded to HT’s mail, though the ‘misplaced’ papers were never found.

Earlier in 2010, serving Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) officer Major Sameer Ali had hacked into an Indian Army major’s e-mail account and extracted many sensitive documents.

The hacked account was traced to a major of 21 Bihar Regiment, then posted in the Andamans and preparing for the DSSC exam.

His computer and e-mail account had more than 4,000 sensitive documents – some of them marked ‘secret’ and ‘top secret’— which he was not supposed to be in possession of.

Though the officer has since been cleared of suspicions of espionage, the seriousness of the document theft was underscored by the fact that major Ali was in the “control room” directing the Mumbai attacks.

The news of the hacking was given to Indian probe agencies by the FBI, which was then interrogating Mumbai attack accused David Coleman Headley. Ali had been accessing an Indian officer’s rediffmail account from the ISI headquarters, the FBI said.

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