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Terror chatter? Ham users track unauthorised radio communications on Bengal-Bangla borders

After alerting the centre, hams had a meeting with officials of international monitoring station.

kolkata Updated: Oct 15, 2016 12:52 IST
Ravik Bhattacharya
Ravik Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times
terrorists,Bangladesh,West Bengal
The communications usually take place around midnight and the location of the communicator shifts frequently. The communicators speak in Bengali and Urdu with Bangladeshi pronunciation, apart from using codes.(HT Photo)

Amateur radio operators in south Bengal have raised alarm over unauthorised radio communication along the Bengal-Bangladesh border. The communication is taking place using radio signals (very high frequency) at dead in the night and the sources of the signals are moving and speaking in code languages.

When HAM radio operators of Bengal tried speaking to them, they stopped communication briefly only to resume it again. After they brought the matter to the notice of the Centre, they were asked to monitor the signals round the clock.

Interestingly, radio sets were found with the terrorists in recent Uri attacks that were used by them for communication with their bases in Pakistan.

Alarmed, the Ham operators have deployed 23 operators to monitor the signals round the clock. They also worked throughout the pujas.

Read:250 active terrorists in Kashmir plan to target Indian forces: Reports

Their secretary of the West Bengal Radio Club (Amateur Club) told HT that the nature of the communication is highly suspicious.

“After we wrote a letter highlighting the strange signals to the ministry of communication and information technology, we were called for a meeting by officials of international monitoring station in Kolkata on September 22. Ten of us met the officials. and furnished the details of our findings,” said Ambarish Nag Biswas, secretary Bengal Amateur Radio Club.

“We were asked to continue the monitoring. Twenty three of our ham operators monitored round the clock during Pujas. On Asthami we once again we found such unauthorized communication. It is a cause for concern for us all since the location is close to Bangladesh border and that the callers were taking in codes and words with Bangladeshi pronunciation,” added Biswas.

According to the Ham radio operators, the communication was noticed in VHF (which is used by the operators) since June.

The callers were using Bengali and Urdu with typically Bangladeshi styled pronunciations. Numeric codes were also used to communicate.

Read:Bangladesh investigators identify 5 financiers of Dhaka cafe terror attacks

“We have also heard names like Barik and Sofi during the conversation. The communications takes place around midnight and the location of the communicator shifts frequently. When we ask them to identify themselves, they go silent for 15 to 20 mins. Names of places such as Bashirhat, Taki and Deganga were also heard,” said Biswas.

Ham operators like Souvik Chanda Dutta, Subrata Dey, Jayanta Baidya, Pallab Chakraborty, Sufal Majumder and others monitored the radio waves round the clock during the Durga Pujas.

Amateur radio, often called HAM radio, is both a hobby and a service in which participants, called “hams”, use various types of radio communications equipment to communicate with other radio amateurs through airwaves for public services, recreation and self-training.

Read:Kolkata Police arrest six JMB members from Assam

An estimated 30 lakh people throughout the world are regularly involved in amateur radio transmissions. HAM radio operators have worked during disasters like the Aila cyclone and the Bhuj earthquake and are present at the Gangasagar Mela every year.

The amateur radio association in Bengal was formed in 2008 and this is the first time they have encountered such strange communication along the Indo-Bangladesh border.

Any reference to such communication is enough to give sleepless nights to the authorities since the 2014 Burdwan blast that blew the lid off a flourishing terror network in at least four districts of Bengal.

First Published: Oct 15, 2016 12:42 IST