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SMS patrol: b crfl ur phn is bng tppd

INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES will soon be sniffing out terror SMSes. The Home Ministry has directed them to identify and procure the best technology available abroad to monitor SMSes. The order came after it was found that militants and gangsters have started using messages on their cellphones more frequently to co-ordinate their operations.

india Updated: Jun 24, 2006 01:40 IST

INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES will soon be sniffing out terror SMSes.

The Home Ministry has directed them to identify and procure the best technology available abroad to monitor SMSes. The order came after it was found that militants and gangsters have started using messages on their cellphones more frequently to co-ordinate their operations.

Currently, the intelligence agencies can only track the cellphone numbers of the sender and the recipient of a message. But reading the SMS is not possible, as they do not have the technology for it.

An official said: "Even the content of SMSes sent or received by cellphones that are being tapped are not known." And this handicap, sources said, was being exploited by militant outfits.

Ministry officials said the situation was particularly bad in J&K and the Northeast. While militants in J&K use Sim cards from Pakistan, those in the northeast use Sim cards from Bangladesh. Intelligence sources said the network of cellphone service providers in Pakistan and Bangladesh extends to border areas of India.

Though the intelligence agencies monitor such cellphones, it has been found that the users have been increasingly switching to SMSes to pass on terror tactics.

The decision to monitor the SMSes was taken at a meeting chaired by home secretary V.K. Duggal on Thursday evening. The meeting was also attended by top officials of Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Delhi Police. Some officials, however, believed interception of SMSes by the IB could be a double-edged sword.