In a span of less than a month, thieves struck the embassy area in New Delhi on Sunday for the second time and stole telephone cables worth nearly Rs 4 lakh. While the incidents and their frequency are worrying, the Delhi Police is clueless about the possible identity of the thieves who dug an 18-metre-long tunnel outside the Ethiopian embassy on Shanti Path in Chanakyapuri causing communication outage in the high security area.
Sunday’s theft led to disruption of telephone lines at the Austria and the UAE embassies, offices and residences on the Sardar Patel Marg, Malcha Marg, Bapu Dham, including the Intelligence Bureau office, Army mess and residences of several senior Railway board officers, officials in the MTNL said. Police have registered three FIRs so far. The stolen cables had been installed only last month, an MTNL official said.
The theft was discussed in a meeting of senior officers but there is little that the police appears to be doing to prevent such incidents. MTNL officials said that the total loss till date was valued at around Rs 25 lakh. DCP (New Delhi) Vijay Singh was not available for any comments despite repeated calls and a text message.
The theft was reported on Sunday morning, when an operator informed the MTNL’s telephone exchange control room in Chanakyapuri of a disruption of telephone lines across several areas in the New Delhi district.
A senior engineer from the MTNL cable division reached the spot and found an 18-metre long tunnel dug behind the wall of the Ethiopian embassy at Shanti Path. MTNL officials said that three bundled cables measuring around 18 metres, priced at around Rs 70,000 per metre, were found stolen.
This is the third time the lines were disconnected because of the cable theft, an official at the Austrian embassy said. “We complained to MTNL and they assured us that lines would be restored by Monday afternoon. The lines are yet to be restored. People are now contacting us on our mobile hotline number mentioned in our official website,” the official added.
On Monday evening, MTNL workers were seen putting new cables lines. “It would take more than an hour to dig an 18-metre tunnel and steal the cables. This is the third time at this spot and fourth in the Chanakyapuri area in the last three months. We wonder when the next theft will be,” an MTNL official said.