Was the office of the Defence Minister A.K. Antony subjected to electronic eavesdropping? The Ministry of Defence denied a report of “bugging,” stating that nothing was found during routine sweep of the offices of the Minister.
Reacting to a report in an English news weekly on Friday that the Military Intelligence (MI) found some activity during a regular electronic sweep on February 16, the Ministry issued a statement. “Reports of ‘bugging' in South Block in a section of the media are hereby denied. Routine checks are conducted in the offices of Raksha Mantri and other officers in South Block. Nothing has been found in these checks,” Defence Ministry chief spokesman Sitanshu Kar said.
On its part, sources in the Army maintained that the MI had brought to the notice of the Ministry that its team during routine check detected “suspect activity” last month.
The magazine reported that the Defence Secretary had called in the Intelligence Bureau (IB) to do a second sweep. However, the Ministry asserted that “such sweeps by the IB are conducted from ‘time-to-time' even after the MI goes through the task of checking the offices of the Defence Minister and other top officers.”
Incidentally, the report of alleged bugging in the Defence Minister's office, since denied by the government, becomes the second instance when the office of a senior Minister holding a sensitive portfolio has figured in such an activity. A few months ago, a row erupted after the Finance Minister's office was found to have a sticky substance underneath his desk.