3. Intelligence Bureau denies Bugging in Finance Minister's Office

The Intelligence Bureau has denied that the finance minister's office was bugged. IB sources said the security and intelligence agencies carry out a four-level check for at least key ministries on Raisina Hills - Defence, Home, MEA and Finance.

The drill includes shadowing of key officials, which was done in case of Ravi Inder Singh, Director of Internal Security in the Home Ministry. Singh was arrested a few months ago.

Cell phone calls of key officials are also monitored. Hard disks of computers of officials handling sensitive charges are scanned. Electronic sweeps are also part of the security drill.

IB sources told Headlines Today that they conducted a through probe into the complaint that several offices, including that of Finance Minister, were bugged.

Sources said it seems to be a case of false alarm. No bugging devices have been found in the initial probe, a fact that Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee himself has confirmed. "Regarding the bugging in my office I would like to clarify that IB probed, but found nothing," Mukherjee said on Tuesday.

FM urged probe

Mukherjee had urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to undertake a secret probe to look into the attempt to bug his office.Fears of a breach in Pranab's office surfaced after taxmen and security agencies found as many as 16 adhesives strips planted in North Block offices of the Finance Minister and his officials.

The adhesive strips were found in the offices of Pranab's advisor, personal secretary and two conference rooms. Pranab wrote a letter in September 2010 to prime minister asking him to order a secret probe. The Central Board of Direct taxes also conducted electronic sweeps.

The CBDT is particularly alarmed that the surface of the strips had grooves, which suggested planting of tiny devices that have been pulled out later. The CBDT chairman has also confirmed to Headlines Today about these adhesive strips.

Opposition attacks govt

Launching an attack on the UPA, the BJP said on Tuesday "this is a non-functioning government". "The UPA government has lost its way. Things have reached such a pass that Pranab suspects that his office is bugged. Who is doing this? The fact that a private company was investigating suspicions of bugging indicates that the FM has no faith in Home Minister P. Chidambaram," BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said.

"There is civil war underway within the government and between ministers. This is a serious issue. People want to know who is snooping on the FM. Pranab has no faith in his home minister. This is a non-functioning government. Senior leaders within the party are sparring against the PM. The Congress president needs to reply what is the party's stand on the matter," Shahnawaz added.

"These things are quite possible in the given situation. The Finance Ministry is the most sensitive ministry. Economics is the real politics today. There's cut-throat competition with corporate houses working at cross-purposes and trying to influence policies," CPI leader D. Raja said.

Raja added, "You come across such bugging ìn American thrillers. Now for the first time, you hear of something like this vis-a-vis our own government. Pranab must have had some serious doubts. Otherwise, why would he take it up with the PM? Some people say it was only chewing gum. But why was it everywhere? There is something dubious. It shows some serious situation that is emerging in the country."

Senior BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said, "Bugs in the FM office is a serious issue. The government should clarify who is responsible - ASAP - when there are serious cases of economic offences."

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