New Delhi__ The alleged suspect in the biggest espionage ring in India’s history stunned a Gourt today by confessing he sold vital national secrets to France and another Western nation and had collected $1 million as a spy in over 25 years, a court official said.
Businessman Kumar Narain, liaison officer of a Bombay textile company, did not name the other Western country in his threehour court session before Metropolitan Magistrate P.K. Dham, said the official, who asked not to be named.
At no time in his confession did he name “‘the United States or any of the Soviet bloc of nations,”’ the official said.
Narain told the judge in a statement running over 700 words that “he had been collecting information concerning India’s politics, defense and economy for the past 25 years and passing them on to foreigners.”
He told the judge he has made nearly $1 million during his quarter century of spying but did not reveal where he kept the money or how it was spent.
The confession meant that India’s most sensitive secrets had been pilfered and sold to foreign countries for most of India’s 36 years of independence. Previous newspaper reports said the spy ring had been operating for two to three years.
Fifteen suspects have been arrested so far in the case, the biggest spy scandal in Indian history. The spy network, publicized last month by Gandhi, has breached security in his office as well as in the office of the Indian president, the Defense Ministry and other government departments.
Gandhi’s government today ordered defense production secretary M. C. Sarin to proceed on leave immediately. The Times of India said A. S. Baijal, a finance secretary, was also ordered to go on leave in connection with the case.
Narain confessed he was collecting classified information from Indian officials and passing them on “‘to some people of diplomatic level,’ the source said.
“Narain mentioned three foreign nationals” to whom he was supplying secret information, the official said.
“Two of the foreign nationals belonged to France and the other to another Western country,’ he said, without naming the second nation allegedly involved in the spy case.
“Narain did not name the United States or any of the Soviet bloc of nations” in his statement, the official said.
Narain told the court he received the top secret documents from Indian officials who went to his office in central Delhi. He made photocopies of the documents, returned the originals, and passed the secrets to his foreign contacts, the official said.
Narain, looking calm and composed and wearing a deep brown suit and high neck pullover, was escorted in and out of court under heavy police guard. Police did not allow the suspect to talk to the flood of reporters who jammed the courthouse halls.
As Narain gave his confession, it was typed by the court’s stenographer. Narain read each page of the statement and signed it, along with the magistrate.
The first suspect to confess was S. Sankaran, the personal assistant to the press secretary of President Zail Singh, who told the court Friday he sold state secrets to Narain for as little as $4 each.
Article extracted from this publication >> February 8, 1985