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Updated: September 24, 2012 23:53 IST

Breaching security, woman enjoys ISRO hospitality

Imran Gowhar
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File photo of Beulah who was arrested for showing fake ID Card and entering ISRO at Old Airport Road in Bangalore.
PTI File photo of Beulah who was arrested for showing fake ID Card and entering ISRO at Old Airport Road in Bangalore.

Posing as senior scientist, she stayed inside high-security establishment for 2 days

A 40-year-old woman, suspected to be suffering from depression, breached the high-security ISRO campus on old Airport Road here, posing as a senior scientist, and stayed in a guesthouse there for two days.

Despite the Central Industrial Security Force enforcing multiple security checks for visitors, Buela M. Sam hoodwinked everyone and enjoyed ISRO hospitality for two days before being found out, police said.

It was when she tried to venture into another ISRO campus at Yelahanka here on Saturday that she was caught. When CISF guards stopped her at the entrance, Ms. Sam told them she was a senior ISRO scientist and had come to attend a seminar.

Growing suspicious, the security officials cross-checked with the higher-ups and found out that there was no seminar. On further scrutiny, her ID was discovered to be fake. She was then handed over to the JB Nagar police.

The police were baffled that Ms. Sam managed to stay at the ISRO guesthouse for two days. “It was a serious lapse as the security personnel needed to have checked her background with the department before allowing her to stay,” said a police officer.

According to the police, Ms. Sam stays with her parents in Ahmedabad and is married to Alex Thomas, a high schoolteacher from Kollam, Kerala. A B.Com graduate with a diploma in pharmacy, she is unemployed and is being treated for depression.

She used to visit her husband in Kollam and go missing before returning to Ahmedabad after a few days. As this habit had become frequent, her family members stopped bothering and did not report her disappearances to the police. This time round, she had been missing for 10 days.

Intelligence Bureau officials, who are questioning Ms. Sam, are checking what she was doing on the campus during her stay. They are looking at how she got an ID card.

A team of the Bangalore police has gone to Kollam to question a person who allegedly got the ID card done.

City Police Commissioner Jyoti Prakash Mirji said Ms. Sam had been booked under Sections 171 (forging the identity of a public servant with fraudulent intention), 448 (trespass), 471 (forgery), and 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code.

With hindsight, two staffers of The Hindu who were on an assignment at the ISRO headquarters on Friday evening recalled seeing a woman in jeans and T-shirt being quizzed about an unsuitable ID at the security point. When they left more than two hours later, she was still there, seated next to gun-toting security personnel.

The ISRO did not make any official statement. Some officials, however, were one in saying the breach was a wake-up call to the heavily secured strategic establishment. Their reactions and accounts were mixed.

From accounts pieced together, the intruder got into the ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC) guesthouse on September 19 when it had vacancies. The next day, when a Bharat bandh was observed, or on September 21, she carpooled with a few others and travelled to Antariksh Bhavan, headquarters of the Department of Space, some 20 km away, on New BEL Road. There she tried to meet three people and apparently had their exact names and designations.

At Antariksh Bhavan, she asked for official X by name but a puzzled X said (s) he did not know her. This was repeated with official Y. The third person must have blown the whistle.

Another senior official said cases of such laxity occur at similar establishments but did not get out. Requesting not to be named, one of them said it was hard to discount that there was no ulterior motive; that it might not “have been a recce for a bigger thing considering the times that we live in.”

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The security and identification system should be made biometric.Even DNA profiling should be used.Even the fictional cinema has the gumption to surprise us with their thinking in certain films,but our poeple in-charge of security are lacking in imagination.

from:  K.Sugavanam
Posted on: Sep 26, 2012 at 11:51 IST

It is very easy to breach security of this nature. Unless there is an electronic visitor identification system, for which a bona-fide employee should prepare a welcome in advance, with name of the visitor expected, most of our industrial level security personnel will have no way of checking anything beyond an ID card of some kind. As for getting hold of a fake ID, all it takes is for one employee to allow his her ID to be duplicated. It is ridiculously simple, even if that ID contains an electronic strip at the back.

from:  B S Kumar
Posted on: Sep 25, 2012 at 22:29 IST

Seems like some sort of spying going on. Why choose ISRO?, why not a big temple campus or any other public place?

from:  Niranjan
Posted on: Sep 25, 2012 at 21:17 IST

Securing a fake ID card to gain access to high profile security area, enjoy hospitality for 2 full
days, and trying to gain access to another strategic and high security zone.... Its certainly not
possible for someone suffering from mental depression.It's a well planned operation to have
a recce for some dangerous measures. Those who have managed to catch her deserve a lot
pf appreciation and out of turn promotions ,in order to motivate their counterparts. The
antecedents of the imposter must be thoroughly investigated and all those connected in this
disastrous mission must be dealt with severely and swiftly.

from:  Shekar
Posted on: Sep 25, 2012 at 20:06 IST

A National space organisation which supposedly has cutting edge technology still strangely follows outdated security concept. It is a need of the hour to improve security in all sensitive establishments. there should always be access control. Nobody should just trespass or gain access. A powerfull Database with biometrics should be in place. Since our scientific establishments work together, I comprehensive DB which interacts with multiple establishment should be made.

from:  senthil
Posted on: Sep 25, 2012 at 18:53 IST

Isnt there any approval process for booking the guest houses in ISRO? I don't buy the disappearing-for-day-and-noone-bothers story. Hope police and intelligence does a thorough investigation on this case. May its a serious case of espionage.

from:  Deepak V
Posted on: Sep 25, 2012 at 18:05 IST

To stay in Isro guest house, one has to needpermision from concerned dept.It is not possible to get ISRO Guest house facility without help from People inside the ISRO. Also why she made fake ID of ISRO not any other institutions??????.

from:  shivalingapp
Posted on: Sep 25, 2012 at 17:24 IST

Hi, if we read the news fully, she also had the name of the people she met during her visit to the other facility "There she tried to meet three people and apparently had their exact names and designations.

At Antariksh Bhavan, she asked for official X by name but a puzzled X said (s) he did not know her. This was repeated with official Y. The third person must have blown the whistle." How did she get all this information unless her intention is to get into the facility to either meet someone or to get something out or in. This is a wake-up call for all.

from:  Anand Jambunathan
Posted on: Sep 25, 2012 at 17:19 IST

Seems to be involvement of serious terrorism related groups. Obtaining of a ID, staying at guesthouse for 2 days undetected, speaks volumes about the mark up required in pathetic security system our country is managing.

from:  Rahul
Posted on: Sep 25, 2012 at 17:11 IST

she goes missing everytime before she has to go to ahmedabad...which other companies had she entered like this without an id card? what wud the family do if she wud go missing for 10 days like this? cannot believe a woman doing such things...how did she get the accomodation for 2 days?
lots of questions buzzing around my head

from:  vani
Posted on: Sep 25, 2012 at 16:58 IST

The problem with many organizations in India is that they handover the
security issues to some private organizations. who merely take care of
security and are only interested in making money. For this they hire
some guards who are not at all qualified. It is surprising that ISRO,
which must be a highly secured establishment doesn't even maintain a
finger print and retina scan mechanisms?

from:  Bharadwaj
Posted on: Sep 25, 2012 at 16:46 IST

Biometric systems, Finger prints/face recognition systems are widely used for temples, Supermarket staffs, IT companies but not at ISRO???

from:  Karthik
Posted on: Sep 25, 2012 at 16:07 IST

It is even more hard to digest that she knows three officials by their names and their designation. this incident has all the ingredients to be viewed as a recce for something big and ugly. Respected police officers and intelligence team, please check this out.

from:  Prabakaran
Posted on: Sep 25, 2012 at 11:52 IST

There seems to be a major deficiencies in the access control system in
sensitive establishments. I am not too sure if RFID access system is in
place at ISRO. This readily available technology is extensively used
all over the world as an easy and efficient access control solution. .
RFID badges can be read from much further distances than other
traditional technologies and the embedded electronic information for
each badge can be over-written repeatedly. The increased reading
distance thus enables other tracking technologies like surveillance
cameras to be activated in conjunction with an employee being in their
vicinity. Furthermore, multiple RFID badges can be read all at the same
time. Information about employee access, attendance, and duties
performed, can be easily and efficiently monitored and stored in a
database.

from:  N.G. Krishnan
Posted on: Sep 25, 2012 at 11:25 IST

It is surprising that a well secured(?) strategic establishment still relies on outdated security checks like identity card,which everyone knows can be easily duplicated.There are biometric systems, finger print/face recognition systems etc to identify people, which all private establishments are using.A complete overhaul of access control systems is the need of the hour in all such establishments.

from:  R.Samuel Moses
Posted on: Sep 25, 2012 at 10:11 IST

This is not a simple case of depression.How did she get the fake ID card, details of the venues, employee names. The case needs to be properly investigated by the authorities

from:  Manoj
Posted on: Sep 25, 2012 at 09:45 IST

If she was roaming around you might think she is mentally unstable, But what about the Fake Id?.

from:  Ramakrishnan
Posted on: Sep 25, 2012 at 08:48 IST

@Anil
She is not mentally challenged. She was undergoing treatment for
depression.

from:  Umamaheswaran
Posted on: Sep 25, 2012 at 08:43 IST

Is she Spy? What is ISRO Security? Fake ID and No checking mechanism. Has he sent important information to terrorist ? Stupid can not just create Fake ID , India investigation MUST MUST find out , check her Mobiles , Photos...Docuemtns, Fax...any cameras she has put inside ISRO.. This is really Shocking Security situation...

from:  sam
Posted on: Sep 25, 2012 at 08:36 IST


The lapse in security is serious, I am happy that the many filters have managed to highlight the problem. ISRO is the pride of the nation, some of our detractors are trying to tarnish and clandestinely gain access to the goings on in ISRO, we need to improve on the security system, make it more fool proof and authentication a must for all facilities in the campuses of the organisation.

There may be more moles, some sleeping while others active, needs a thorough investigation done at the level of NIA.

from:  Kothandaram Reddy
Posted on: Sep 25, 2012 at 07:17 IST

Problem with India is that, the security guards don't have any good qualifications. The job is given to anyone who can at a minimum read/write and look intimidating, that's all the qualification needed for security duty. A slightly better qualified guard is an ex-serviceman from military background. Given such low-importance to guard roles, what can one expect from our security establishment?
The correct way is to have a General-Manager and many manager-officers with management credentials and access to top-management to coordinate industrial security with lower ranking executives. Security has to be made a professional business, not to be ignored by Management as useless profession. Hope the scientist get some Management skills at ISRO, DRDO and other govt organizations!

from:  Amol
Posted on: Sep 25, 2012 at 06:22 IST

How a mentally challenged woman got a fake ID card,went to ISRO guest house,stayed for 2 days without rising any suspision and enter a high security zone?Her husband should also be interrogated and truth brought out.

from:  k.sugavanam
Posted on: Sep 24, 2012 at 23:05 IST

Is not it surprising that a mentally challenged woman knows about
carrying a fake id card to enter a strategic facility?

from:  Anil
Posted on: Sep 24, 2012 at 16:07 IST
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