In an incident that exposed the loopholes in the security of defence establishments, a 49-year-old tax accountant posed as a civil servant to stay at Yelahanka’s Indian Air Force (IAF) base.
The Yelahanka police later arrested the man, Purna Chandra Das, a resident of New Delhi. Das was booked under IPC Sections 419 (cheating by personation) and 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property).
The investigation revealed that Das, a native of Bagram district of West Bengal, not only stayed in the Yelahanka air base but also managed to stay at the National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL), Bengaluru, for five days in March 2017, without being caught.
The police said Das landed on Tuesday at the Kempegowda International Airport. He came from Kolkata to accompany his wife Soma Das (41), who was attending a seminar in the city.
After registering at the seminar, he took a cab and went to the Yelahanka air base around 11.15 am with his wife.
Introducing himself as an IAS officer with the Air Force Directorate Personnel and Training Wing, Das asked the defence officials to arrange accommodation for two days at the Officer’s Mess’. The officials allowed his stay without the thorough scrutiny of his credentials.
But officials noticed something amiss at 6.30 pm on Wednesday when Das found himself short of cash while checking out. He was roaming about for an ATM machine to settle the bill of Rs 3,169.
Defence officials got suspicious and asked for his ID cards. Das gave two IDs, one identifying him as a retired IAS officer and another showing him as an employee with the Directorate of Personnel and Training of the IAF.
The IDs did not stand the scrutiny as officials found no one in that name in both the organisations.
Subhash Mishra, warrant officer and the assistant officer at the IAF base, brought Das to the Yelahanka police station and filed a complaint against him.
During interrogation, Das revealed that he was a small-time accountant who is into tax filing of private persons at Kolkata.
His wife (name withheld) was shocked by the arrest and told the police that she was unaware of her husband’s tactics. She said she believed that he was getting the accommodation genuinely. The couple’s seven-year-old daughter was in Kolkata.
The police are verifying the boarding and lodging details in other defence establishments to see if Das had stayed elsewhere.
In his statement to the police, Das said he impersonated to avail cheap accommodations at the defence quarters. He was produced before the 44th Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, who remanded him to judicial custody till October 10.
A senior police officer, however, said the incident shows the vulnerability of the security system. “What if a terrorist gets access with the high-security defence zone for either an espionage or terror operation,” he asked.