MUMBAI: The Mumbai crime branch, which is investigating calls allegedly made by fugitive underworld gangster Dawood Ibrahim from his land line in Pakistan to Maharashtra revenue minister Eknath Khadse, says it is possible that Khadse’s SIM card was cloned.
Cloning refers to the process of electronically duplicating a SIM card, usually without the original card’s owner knowledge. If the crime branch finds that Khadse’s SIM card was indeed cloned without his knowledge and that the calls were made to the duplicate SIM, he will get a clean chit. However, the police will still have to find out who cloned Khadse’s SIM, and why Dawood made calls to his number.
The controversy kicked off on May 21, when Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Preeti Menon claimed that several calls were made to Khadse’s mobile phone from Dawood’s land line between September 2015 and April 2016.
The crime branch, which was entrusted with the investigation, said the allegations were false, upon which Menon submitted another set of dates, between January 18, 2015 and March 28, 2015, on which Dawood allegedly made calls to Khadse. Menon took the help of Manish Bhangale, an ‘ethical hacker’ from Gujarat, to access call records of the number registered in Khadse’s name. Bhangale had earlier accessed the call records of Dawood’s land line and found that it had been used to make calls to Khadse’s number. Mumbai police commissioner DD Padsalgikar said, “The first set of calls, from September 2015 and April 2016, was investigated and we have found the allegations were false. We have submitted a report stating this. The new set of dates, between January and March 2015, is being investigated.”
Padsalgikar added that it will take time to submit the new report as the verification process is lengthy. On Tuesday night, Bhangale was called to the crime branch to demonstrate how he had hacked into Khadse’s call records. The police are also trying to ascertain who was on the other end of the line in Pakistan, said a crime branch source.
Bhangale’s presentation lasted two hours, after which senior officers confessed it was something they had not seen before. “I showed them how I accessed the call records of the land line number, which is registered in the name of Dawood’s wife,” said Bhangale.
“Cloning of SIM cards is on the rise, and we need to verify whether Khadse’s SIM has been cloned,” said a senior crime branch officer. The police also said they will initiate legal action against the Bhangale for accessing Khadse’s call records if the minister lodges a complaint.