Congress attacks government for Scorpene data leak, demands security audit

New Delhi : The Congress on Wednesday accused the government of “cover-up” over the alleged data leak of the Scorpene submarine, which it said had “gravely compromised” India’s national security.

The party demanded a complete “security audit” of the Mazgaon Docks Limited and the Defence Ministry.

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“India’s national security stands gravely compromised with shocking leaks of the specifications of the Scorpene submarine,” Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala told reporters here.

“We demand a complete security audit of the Mazgaon Dock Limited and the Defence Ministry by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court. The government can have representatives from defence forces, intelligence agencies as members,” the Congress leader added.

“This leak has put a question mark on India’s maritime security. It has jeopardised the initiative to build six Scorpene submarines,” he said.

Surjewala also said that despite the data leak, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, the Narendra Modi government and Indian Navy were engaged in “operation cover-up instead of fixing responsibility”.

“Navy and Defence Minister continue to speak in conflicting voice. One calls it hacking, while the other calls it a leak,” Surjewala alleged.

Attacking Parrikar, Sujewala said, “Despite this blunder, which has hurt our defence preparedness, explanation of Modiji’s Defence Minister is that it is a case of hacking. Indian Navy is saying the leak is possibly from a source outside India.”

“Can they do so without conducting any inquiry?” Surjewala questioned.

“It is intriguing how clean chits are being meted out without the matter being looked into,” he said, adding, “It is a myopic approach and a complete apathy on the part of the (Narendra) Modi government.”

“What steps the government has taken to ensure that the data leaked online has not gone into the hands of the enemy and hostile countries,” he asked.

A report in Australian media revealed on Tuesday that sensitive data — comprising documents over 22,000 pages — related to Scorpene submarines have been leaked from French shipbuilder DCNS, which designed the submarine.

Citing the statement given by the French company DCNS, Surjewala said, “The French company have issued a statement hinting that the leak happened in India.”

“They said multiple and independent controls exist to prevent unauthorised access to data and all data movements are encrypted. In the case of India, DCNS is the provider not controller of data — clearly hinting that the leak happened in India,” he accused.

The Congress leader also claimed that nearly 22,400 pages were leaked of Project 75, which carried the emblem of the Indian Navy. “This is the biggest disaster in recent times.”

Surjewala said the government has gone on overdrive to say that these leaks have not compromised the operational capabilities.

“We have read out all the details. It is for everyone to judge if the operational capabilities of the submarines and Indian Navy have been compromised or not,” he added.