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Maps of vital installations found in consignment to U.S.

They were part of the unaccompanied baggage booked by a retired Army officer.

Customs authorities found maps and blueprints of vital installations, including naval establishments, in a consignment booked to the U.S. by a retired Army officer here on Thursday evening.

According to police sources, Customs Superintendent Magudapathy and team found the “suspicious” articles kept in five boxes during a random check. Central/State intelligence agencies inspected the seizures. A total of 54 items such as blueprints of the Naval Dry Dock, Visakhapatnam, Air Force Academy, Hyderabad and a road map of Muzaffarpur and Meerut were found in the unaccompanied baggage of Col. Hugh A. Marley (78) of Salem.

Sources in the Customs Department told The Hindu that the documents were packed in the five steel boxes and booked to California as baggage by Mr. Marley. He left for the U.S. in the last week of February this year. Before leaving he had advised an agent to send the boxes to him.

The Customs authorities said when they were doing a random check on unaccompanied baggage they found a blueprint of the Naval Dry Dock, Visakhapatnam and seized all the boxes booked to Mr. Marley.

A senior Customs official said: “When we found a map in the baggage it raised doubts and after seizing all the boxes and an inventory was made, it came to light that there were blueprints of places of strategic importance.”

The authorities also found a good number of books relating to map reading and defence issues. The baggage contained other official Defence documents such as Court Martial orders, the sources said.

When Customs officials contacted Mr. Marley, he told them that the materials belonged to him and they were personal effects. No decision was taken on handing over the matter to law enforcing agencies for investigation, a Customs official said. “It is too early to comment on whether the retired Army official would be called to India for questioning,” he added.

Sources in the intelligence agencies said Mr. Marley who was living in Yercaud had recently moved to California. His passport (PP F 0753076) showed his place of birth as Patna (Bihar). “No case has been registered yet. Investigation is on to ascertain the source of the maps and the purpose of taking them to the U.S. The seizures do not seem to come under the purview of the Official Secrets Act,” an official in the State intelligence said.

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Printable version | Mar 28, 2020 11:38:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/Maps-of-vital-installations-found-in-consignment-to-U.S./article16577054.ece

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