In an operation that comes close to a thriller chase movies, Military intelligence and Bengaluru Police (ATC) cracked their whip on a network of men who were running an exchange where international calls could be converted to local calls. This case helps the agencies recapitulate that ISI, the Pakistan’s spy agency is now assisting Chinese agencies in gleaning information from India’s north East states.
The story begins with a suspicious call which was received at the Siliguri (West Bengal) helpline number. The person on the other side called himself a retired Army officer and asked for information which raised a few eyebrows. Military intelligence tracked the caller, pronto.
The number displayed on caller ID helped the agency to dig it’s details and location. Interestingly the location of the number was static and the call data records (CDR) showed that while gamut of outgoing calls were being made from the number, the incoming calls to the number were sporadic. This proved that calls were being done using a machine and CDR showed calls were made by the SIM ergo it proved that this wasn’t a case of spoof-calling.
Investigations led to 2 men, Gautam Bin Viswanathan (27), a native of Tirupur district in Tamil Nadu and Ibrahim Mullatti Bin Mohammed Kutty (36), a native of Mallapuram district in Kerala. They lived in the BTM Layout area of Bengaluru.
Gautam and Ibrahim were hired by ISI to convert international calls coming from Pakistan into local calls. This helped the Pakistan’s spy agency evade the prying eyes of Indian intel agencies and telecommunication companies.
Police says that both the men had illegally created telephone exchange in 6 places in BTM Layout areas. They had placed 32 mobile SIM cards into about 30 electronic devices, and facilitated in converting foreign calls into local calls. More than 900 SIM cards have been recovered from the 2 men.
In the pic: Gautam Bin Viswanathan (27), a native of Tirupur district in Tamil Nadu and Ibrahim Mullatti Bin Mohammed Kutty (36), a native of Mallapuram district in Kerala
Earlier in 2018 a similar case had happened in Hyderabad where a 32-year-old man, running a cyber cafe, was arrested by police for allegedly converting international calls to local calls, albeit it’s not sure if the case had the involvement of ISI or not.
At such exchanges ‘migration’ of the SIM cards is carried out so that the registration of the SIM cards jumps on different GSM modules with a specific frequency. This is done in an effort to prevent the SIM card from being blocked by service providers or detected by government agencies. ISI uses such illegal exchanges inside India to glean sensitive information and also to maintain contact with it’s agents in India
Presently, Bengaluru City Police anti-terrorism cell (ATC) has registered a case with the cyber crime police station. The police commissioner has announced a reward of Rs 30,000 for the investigation team.
In what would have otherwise taken just a week to crack the case, this one was delayed due to Covid restrictions, while the officers had to patiently wait for the men to not get alerted before agencies could reach them.
This case is the tip of the iceberg as some call it. An exhaustive investigation of ISI’s recent activities in North-Eastern part of India proves that Pakistan’s spy agency is working in tandem with their Chinese counterparts for their nefarious activities. Chinese agencies need agents who can speak good Hindi and Indian-ised English, and ergo the reliance on Pakistan’s spy agency. But every country’s intelligence agency is it’s first line of defense and Indian agencies are assiduously working to water down efforts of enemy states.
Update as on June 14th:
3000 SIMS seized and 7 people arrested.
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