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Friday, Aug 23, 2019

Fake international telephone exchange: Patna police probing terror, hawala links

The police seized BSNL SIM cards, SIGOS server of German-make, cellphones, laptop, ATM cards, PAN card and a diary carrying mobile and telephone numbers of different states.

patna Updated: Nov 28, 2017 15:36 IST
Avinash Kumar
Avinash Kumar
Hindustan Times, Patna
Patna police have set up a special investigating team to go into details and unravel the links.
Patna police have set up a special investigating team to go into details and unravel the links.(File Photo)

Patna police, which unearthed a private international telephone exchange that registered a lot of traffic from Pakistan and the Middle East, and arrested three persons late on Sunday, are now investigating if there was a larger design for setting it up and whether a terror and hawala angle was a possibility.

“The racket came to light on a complaint alleging hawala racket, which a central agency tracked to Gopalganj district in Bihar and it subsequently came to light that the call was routed via Patna, which is a base for such illegal telephone exchanges,” sources added.

The Patna police, following inputs from central intelligence agency, busted the racket on Saturday. During investigation, it also came to light that the setup was being used by ‘people’ from various countries, including Middle East and Pakistan, to make calls to Siwan, Gopalganj, Araria, Kishnaganj, Katihar and Phulwarisharif in Patna.

The police seized over 200 SIM cards of BSNL, SIGOS server of German-make, three cellphones, one laptop, eight ATM cards, PAN card and a diary carrying several mobile and telephone numbers of different states, including Jammu and Kashmir.

The arrested persons — Navin Sinha, Rohit Kumar and Sushil Kumar Chourasia — are said to be just small fries of a big racket. During interrogation they could not reveal user ID and password of the exchange. They used internet connection provided by Host Axix Company. Police said the German-make SIGOS server machine costs Rs 1.70 lakh, which runs 30 SIM boxes.

However, police found, that the three persons arrested were mere operators, but said there was hint of a very powerful lobby abroad, related to the discovery. The mastermind of the entire racket is still traceless. Police have started search for one Punit Kaushik, a native of Gurugram. The main handlers are based in different parts of the world.

IG Patna, NH Khan has now constituted a special investigating team to go into details and unravel the links.

Khan said a special team under the supervision of city SP (central) D Amarkesh comprising ASP (operations) Rakesh Kumar Dubey would thoroughly probe the racket. The special team will also visit other states and gather details. The cops will dig into the funding of the company floated by them and identify the amount received from foreign countries.

Amarkesh told HT that as the gangs show the calls as local calls of that particular country, the service providers also fail to identify the fraud most of the time.

An FIR has been lodged against those arrested under three under different sections, including waging war against the country and forgery.

“We have pressed sections 121(A), 120 B of IPC apart from 467, 468, 471, 420 66C IT Act and 112/117 Customs Act against them,” said Amarkesh.

First Published: Nov 28, 2017 15:36 IST

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