New Delhi, India – One of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s closest aides resigned and at least four more people were arrested in connection with an alleged spy ring, two senior government sources said Saturday.

 The four arrests reported Saturday brought to 11 the number of people arrested by the domestic intelligence service since Thursday in connection with the alleged spy ring, according to one government source who spoke on the condition he not be identified. Among those arrested were nine government officials, the source said.

More arrests were expected, he said.

  1. C. Alexander, principal secretary in the prime minister’s office and one of Gandhi’s closest aides, submitted his resignation late Friday, said another source, who also requested anonymity. The resignation followed the arrest and interrogation of Alexander’s personal secretary, T. N. Kher, in connection with the alleged spy ring. P. C. Alexander was closest aide to Mrs. Indira Gandhi and was considered author of the policy of prevarication and drift that the government of India adopted in dealing with Sikh demands and Assam tangle.

Among those whose arrests were reported Saturday, three Defense Ministry officials were being held on suspicion of leaking highly classified information about India’s arms deals and negotiations with the Soviet Union, said another source who also requested anonymity.

It was not immediately known to whom the information allegedly was leaked.

On Friday, five government officials and two businessmen were taken into custody, sources said.

Three of the arrested officials worked in the prime minister’s office, one was a member of the press relations department of President Zail Singh and the other was attached to Defense Secretary S. K. Bhatnagar, sources said.

 India has contracted to buy top-of-the-line MiG-29 fighter jets, sophisticated missiles and other weapons systems from the Soviet Union. It also is negotiating with Moscow to buy submarines, army hardware and an electronic naval surveillance system.

Two India delegations visited Moscow in September and October to negotiate the new arms deals, which are expected to be worth billions of dollars.

According to the United News of India, Magistrate Bharat Bhushan ordered the seven men arrested Friday held in police custody for 10 days on charges of passing vital information, including defense secrets, to unidentified foreign sources.

Press reports said police recovered photocopies of highly classified defense documents in raids on homes of some of the arrested men.

Article extracted from this publication >> January 25, 1985