1st December 2022

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Chinese spying

Senior bureaucrats in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), IAS officers in infrastructure ministries, chief secretaries and state directors general of police (DGP) mark a strong presence in the base.

  • Foreign key information data from Zhenhua Data, an IT company in Shenzhen, China’s Guangdong Province, which tracks some 2.5 million people across geographies, including at least 10,000 Indians.
  • There are at least 375 bureaucrats, most of them on duty and some retired, in the database.
  • Those monitored include at least half a dozen bureaucrats in the Prime Minister’s Office, or in ministries directly under the Prime Minister; at least 23 chief secretaries and 15 DGPs.
  • Here are some of the findings of an eight-week investigation by The Indian Express into a segment of the database that an anonymous source connected to the company made available that has ties to the Chinese government.
  • The supervised bureaucrats cover the entire cadre and seniority, in state and central government departments, and are primarily located in key departments, including natural resources, infrastructure and urban development, finances and public order.
  • Information commissioners with the power to gather information from the government and key electoral officials who oversaw the funding and spending of political parties and candidates in recent elections are also targeted.
  • Among the bureaucrats working under the prime minister are Amarjeet Sinha, appointed advisor to the prime minister’s office this year; Sumita Misra, co-secretary of the Prime Minister’s Economic Council; and Ashish Kumar, private secretary to Jitendra Singh, PMO Minister of State.
  • The heads of key infrastructure ministries include Bidyut Behari Swain, Special Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce, key to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations, the implementation of the foreign trade policy statement and issues of solutions commercial, anti-dumping duties and subsidies; Shiv Meena, CMD, Housing and Urban Development Corporation Limited (HUDCO); Rajesh Aggarwal, Additional Secretary and Financial Advisor, Ministry of Oil and Natural Gas; and Dharmendra Gangwar, additional secretary and financial adviser to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Other active public officials in the database include:
  • Archana Varma, additional secretary, Central Supervisory Commission
  • T Sreekanth, Personal Secretary to G Kishan Reddy, MoS, Home Office (MHA)
  • Anil Malik, additional secretary (foreigners), MHA
  • Dr Rajkumar, CEO of Bharat Petroleum
  • Vivek Bharadwaj, Additional Secretary (Police Modernization), MHA
  • Nidhi Chhibber, Deputy Secretary and Purchasing Manager (Maritime Systems), Ministry of Defense
  • S Aparna, Executive Director, World Bank, Washington DC
  • Anjana Dube, Deputy Managing Director, Department of Financial Services
  • The database also contains former DGP PP Pandey of Gujarat, now demobilized in the suspected case of Ishrat Jahan’s mock encounter, and former Kerala DGP Siby Mathews, who investigated the ISRO spy case from 1994.
  • The database includes DIG Atul Goel of South Kashmir, who arrested J&K DSP Davinder Singh on suspicion of having ties to the ISI’s Punjab militancy unit; Vijay Bhushan, I-G, Uttar Pradesh, who served as SP, Shamli, during the Muzaffarnagar riots; and Chandra Prakash, DG (Special Consultations) UP.
  • Bureaucrats serving the states database include Temjen Toy, Chief Secretary of Nagaland; P Ravi Kumar, Additional Secretary General of Karnataka CM B S Yediyurappa; Awanish Kumar Awasthi, Additional Chief Secretary (Interior), UP, and State Representative to the Ram Janmabhoomi Tirtha Kshetra Trust; S Siddharth, Principal Secretary (Finance), Bihar, and former Secretary of CM Nitish Kumar.
  • Former officers include Sumantha Chaudhuri, former secretary of Coal; Yudhvir Malik, former president of NHAI; Lipika Roy Choudhury, former CBEC member and United Nations Security Council finance expert; and Surjit Chaudhary, former secretary for chemicals and petrochemicals.
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