More than 1,000 telephone lines,including Remote Access Terminal (RAX) networks used by top officers and politicians for internal communication,went dead after two dozen rolls of MTNL cables were stolen from the high security area near Army Headquarters on Wednesday night.
Given the sensitivity of communications handled by Army Headquarters,initial fears were of a massive security breach,and instructions were issued to urgently secure the information stored at the headquarters. On Thursday morning,the RAX network too was found to be non-functional.
Officials of the Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL),which has an exchange inside Sena Bhawan,were summoned late on Wednesday night. Several tonnes of high-value cables were subsequently found missing from an underground chamber used as a network junction.
MTNL area manager (Janpath),B M Tandon,told The Indian Express,We have filed a complaint with the police. Our officials are in the process of assessing the cost of the missing cables. These are high value cables,and it will take several days to restore services in the affected areas.
Initial investigations suggest the theft occurred between 8 pm and 9 pm on Wednesday,when armed security was deployed at the gates of Sena Bhawan,police sources said. An inside job could not be ruled out,they said.
It is not possible to carry away such a massive quantity of heavy copper wire on foot. The thieves seem to have used a vehicle,probably a mini truck. It is suspected that they came in the guise of MTNL staff, an officer close to the investigation said.
Police officers said the cables have a large and ready market in several cities in Delhis vicinity like Meerut and Gurgaon. The cables are primarily purchased by construction companies or contractors. We have caught some gangs of cable thieves with links to contractors in the past, an officer said.
Additional CP (New Delhi) K C Dwivedi said,A case has been registered at Tughlaq Road police station and investigations are under way.