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 were frequently using SMSes to coordinate 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 is 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. Sources said the network of cellphone-service providers in Pakistan and Bangladesh extends to the 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 SMSes was taken at a meeting chaired by home secretary V.K. Duggal on Thursday evening. The meeting was also attended by officials of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Delhi Police. The IB uses the facilities of the Delhi Police’s Special Cell to monitor the cellphones of suspected militants.
Some officials, however, believed the interception of SMSes by the IB could be a double-edged sword. Over the years, the IB has gained the reputation of obeying the political masters.