Two of five top officials of BSNL were removed from sensitive zones a few months ago after security agencies submitted a report to the Prime Minister's Office regarding their doubtful integrity and “dubious” links with Chinese firms, HT has learnt.
This came after written directions from the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), which found that security agencies, including the Intelligence Bureau and Research and Analysis Wing, had gathered sufficient evidence against them.
The CVC took the decision after a formal complaint from the agencies was forwarded to it by the PMO.
“After we received CVC’s instructions, we removed two of them and sent reports on three other officials to the Commission,” said a top BSNL official. Despite instructions, the other three were not removed.
BSNL CMD Kuldeep Goyal could not be contacted.
Sources said after the BSNL decided to go ahead with its plan to award Chinese telecom major Huawei a multi-billion contract despite their warning, the agencies launched a quiet operation to nail the officials.
"On finding that the facts were startling, the CVC issued written instructions to BSNL CMD Kuldeep Goyal asking him to shift the tainted officials out of some sensitive zones," said a top government source.
Since the CBI probe is on, it would not be prudent to reveal their identities, he added.
The PMO, particularly then National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan, too, seemed concerned over the intelligence inputs.
Last year, the Chinese major was awarded a contract to build 25 million-line-mobile network in south India. Last month, however, the BSNL decided to scrap the global tender based on advice from a committee headed by Sam Pitroda, the advisor to the Prime Minister.
While Indian agencies have always suspected Huawei to have links with China and its security apparatus, the company denied the charges.
"Besides the security angle, the CBI is also probing whether there was a deliberate attempt to lower qualifying requirements and manipulate tender specifications to suit the Chinese firm and the alleged links between the officials and the firm," said a CBI official.