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India's Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan. Image courtesy of ibnlive.

A group of  seven Indian petroleum ministry and oil firm employees were arrested Friday for allegedly stealing and leaking classified documents to energy companies in exchange for cash payments.

The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas currently has two government officials, an employee from an energy company, two middlemen and two energy consultants in custody, BBC said.

The men’s names have not been released yet.

Officials said the group stole, photocopied and leaked confidential oil ministry documents related to energy pricing and policy in exchange for undisclosed sums of money.

Delhi police received a tip that the men were trying to break into offices at the ministry and steal classified documents on Tuesday night.

“A trap was laid and three men were arrested from outside the office and official documents recovered from them,” Delhi police chief BS Bassi said.

The four other men were arrested after the sting operation.

Police said the recipients of the stolen documents will also be arrested.

“Confidential documents were leaked to certain independent consultants and energy companies, some of whom are being interrogated. We will analyse the documents that we have recovered and see if the Official Secrets Act needs to be invoked. More arrests are likely,” Bassi said.

Police have begun question nearly a dozen employees working at least five private energy firms and an energy consultant firm.

Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said the government will take “strong action” against those involved in the theft ring.