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Police probe anti-national activities by illegal telephone exchange in Govandi

By Manish K Pathak, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON MAY 31, 2020 08:49 PM IST

The Mumbai crime branch during an inquiry into the illegal international telephone exchange busted on Saturday, learnt that the arrested accused Sameer Alwari, 38, who was operating the exchange in Govandi, had travelled to Nepal earlier and was in touch with several people from Nepal, Gulf and European countries for more than five years. The police have also been inquiring about his financial transaction. Alwari was produced in the court on Sunday and has been remanded to police custody till June 9.

Alwari was arrested on Saturday after the Military Intelligence unit found several calls were coming to Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) from abroad but the numbers were Indian.

The calls that were coming from abroad were landing in the illegal telephone exchange in Govandi and later they were diverted to J&K showing the Indian numbers, said deputy commissioner of police Akbar Pathan of the crime branch.

The two mobile numbers were traced to Govandi. These two numbers were kept under surveillance. All the calls received by the parallel exchange were made from abroad, added officer.

Apart from Mumbai crime branch, the central agencies are also probing if a terror or spy network was operating using multiple SIM boxes as several calls were made to defence establishments in J&K, added official.

Following information, the Mumbai crime branch’s unit 6 conducted raid in Govandi in Alwari’s residence and arrested him. During raid police seized a total of five SIM boxes, of which one was inactive, and have also recovered 223 SIM cards, 10 mobile phones, a laptop modem, connection board and batteries in the raid.

Alwari was previously arrested in Thane in 2017 for similar crimes. After scrutinising the number and its call records it was found Alwari made and received several calls from other countries like Nepal, several countries from the Gulf and Europe. The accused would illegally convert voice-over-internet telephony (VoIP) calls from abroad into a local call through the illegal international gateway.

A SIM box routes international calls as local calls, allowing the box operator to bypass international rates charged by local mobile network operators. The SIM boxes are fitted with hundreds of GSM SIM cards procured using fake IDs.

There is a possibility that the parallel exchange suspected to be used for anti-national activities by unfriendly nations.

In February this year, the crime branch has busted a similar racket operating from Noida in Uttar Pradesh and Changaramkulam in Kerala. Police seized a total of eight SIM boxes and recovered 686 SIM cards from the raids in the two cities.

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