Buela M. Sam, who posed as a scientist; (right) the main entrance to the Isro satellite centre where the guesthouse is located. Picture by Bangalore News Photos
Bangalore, Sept. 24: A 44-year-old woman posing as a scientist with a fake ID managed to stay at the Indian Space Research Organisation guesthouse here for two days last week, the security breach leaving one of the country’s most protected installations shaken.
Ahmedabad resident Buela M. Sam was arrested on Friday when she tried to walk into an international conference at the Isro headquarters in Bangalore, a day after checking in at the Old Airport Road guesthouse, some 20km away.
Her husband Alex, a schoolteacher who arrived here from Ahmedabad yesterday after being summoned by police, has claimed she is mentally unstable. The police said they would arrange a medical examination soon, and sources conceded that her answers to interrogators had been largely incoherent.
Buela was today produced before a city court, which remanded her to judicial custody till October 6. She has been booked on the charges of forgery, cheating and breach of contract but the police have not suggested any motive.
Alex, who hails from Kerala, said Buela is a homemaker. The fake ID card she carried showed her as a “senior scientist”, city police commissioner Jyotiprakash Mirji said.
Asked how the case was being treated since it is about a security breach at Isro, where eight satellite projects are now based, Mirji said: “Any small thing will be taken seriously. This will be taken more seriously.”
The incident comes soon after the discovery that one among a group of terror suspects arrested recently in the city was a junior research fellow at the Defence Research and Development Organisation, another high-security installation.
DRDO later claimed that Aijaz Ahmed Mirza, 28, was not involved in any sensitive projects, indicating he had had no opportunity to steal any important documents.
Police sources gave Buela’s address as 202 Radha Apartments near IOC petrol pump, Ahmedabad 15.
“Her husband claims she has been on medication for mental instability for a year and a half. This has to be verified,” commissioner Mirji said.
“Her husband claimed she would often disappear and that this time she went missing for about 10 days. This too has to be verified.”
Mirji said investigators would seek more details from Alex and find out why a missing persons complaint had not been lodged.
The police have found that the fake ID card was procured from Kollam, a south Kerala town that Buela apparently visited around September 19 to attend a funeral. Officers are probing whether there’s a fake ID network functioning from the town.
Buela stayed at the Isro guesthouse without attracting attention but when she arrived at the conference venue, a BSF sub-inspector grew suspicious about her “unsound behaviour”.
Her answers were found inconsistent an she was handed over to the police, who put her up at a women’s home till she was brought before the court today.
Police sources said the Isro security breach had raised a lot of questions. Several senior scientists including Isro chief K. Radhakrishnan were at the headquarters when Buela tried to enter it. Isro has been tight-lipped over the obvious embarrassment.
A senior Isro official who cannot be named said there was a palpable fear in the establishment that it perhaps took its security for granted.
“We would never have imagined anyone breaching our tight security, which is manned 24x7 by well-trained central paramilitary forces,” he said. Another Isro source said an internal investigation had begun.