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Cellular firms directed to cooperate with cops

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has shot off a letter to all cellular companies, asking them to cooperate with the police in providing information about “call details of suspicious people” and help “intercept such calls”. Vijaita Singh reports.

delhi Updated: Jan 06, 2011 00:30 IST
Vijaita Singh

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has shot off a letter to all cellular companies, asking them to cooperate with the police in providing information about “call details of suspicious people” and help “intercept such calls”.

Even though the controversy over corporate lobbyist Nira Radia’s tapes has not died down, Delhi Police is in the process of procuring mobile phone interception machines that they think will enable them to snoop on any suspicious activity.

The police recently placed an order for 10 such machines so that they are able to monitor “criminals and terrorists” better. The Special Cell of Delhi Police that functions under the MHA was not able to track the movement of suspected terrorists as the “limited quota to track ISD calls” was exhausted and all of it was used by other agencies like the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) that investigates financial irregularities.

The Special Cell complained to the MHA that cellular companies were not cooperating when it came to sharing information on certain numbers.

“If a crime takes place on a weekend our hands are completely tied. There is no nodal official available with the telecom companies who could process our requests. In many cases we have lost vital clues and crucial information owing to the negligence of companies,” said a senior police officer on condition of anonymity.

Police said the issue was discussed particularly during the Commonwealth Games, as security agencies could not have taken a risk. After the companies were pulled up by officials of the department of telecommunications (DoT), they agreed to deploy men round-the-clock till the Games were on. “The guidelines that were framed five years ago have not been revised after that, even though the subscriber has grown manifold. The number of people deployed for such jobs have remained stagnant and most of them do not come on weekends or are not available late night,” said the officer.

Police said they have lost crucial leads in many cases, as the service providers were not cooperating. “If they facilitate interception of calls, they do not provide the data to match with it. In absence of any data like the call log records, it turns into a futile exercise, as we cannot catch other people with whom the particular person is in touch with. It’s a blind exercise after that,” said the
officer.