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Cops probe how agent got defence numbers

mumbai Updated: Dec 17, 2010 03:04 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
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Army officers have termed the discovery of Electronic Private Automatic Branch Exchange (EPABX) numbers with arrested visa-facilitating agent Javed Abdul Gafoor Mozawalla “surprising” and “mildly alarming” as these numbers are available to only a few people outside the defence domain.

“The fact that he had numbers of formations is surprising as these are maintained in a directory prepared specifically for internal use,” an army officer said on condition of anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak to the media. “It does not, however, jeopardise the security of defence establishments.” The source said the formations are field positions and generally the numbers of officers posted at formations are available only within the army.

“If he managed to get information on formation details like strength or abilities then it would be detrimental to the country’s defence preparations, but just having the numbers on the exchange may not be as alarming,” the officer said. Another defence official, however, said in some instances the numbers are provided to civilians. “For example, in some cases such extension numbers are provided to suppliers or a relative of a personnel so it is not something a civilian may not be aware of. It should, however, be examined how Mozawalla obtained these numbers,” he said.

When asked if Mozawalla could have had access to such numbers, additional commissioner of police Deven Bharti said, “A layperson could not have had access to them. We are investigating the matter.”

Crime branch sources said Military Intelligence (MI) will question Mozawalla to ascertain how he entered defence installations and how he procured these numbers.

A source said Mozawalla was in touch with some defence personnel who helped him get entry. “Defence officials could have either helped him knowingly or could have been cheated into doing so,” the officer said while adding that Mozawalla had also done a recce of the Airforce base at Deolali.