Army, Bengaluru cops bust suspected terror network

This was a joint raid by Military Intelligence (Southern Command) and the state's Anti-Terrorist Cell (ATC) on June 7
Last Updated : 10 June 2021, 09:07 IST

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In April, Army officials were perturbed by a series of phone calls to their helplines in Siliguri, West Bengal, with unknown callers trying to inquire about army units and movements. Within weeks, the army had traced the suspicious calls to a location in Bengaluru.

An investigation by Military Intelligence (Southern Command) in the city dredged up information that certain persons were exploiting the telecom system to carry out illegal activities. Sources say the suspects used telecom boxes and SIM cards to route calls from terrorist groups.

In a joint raid by Military Intelligence (Southern Command) and the state's Anti-Terrorist Cell (ATC) on June 7, two people were arrested from BTM Layout. A third suspect, a hawala operator from Bhatkal, has also been arrested.

The two men have been identified as Gautam Viswanathan, 27, of Tiruppur district in Tamil Nadu and Ibrahim Mullatti, 36, of Malappuram district in Kerala.

Officially, according to city police Commissioner, Kamal Pant, they are being held in police custody on charges of defrauding the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India and the exchequer by illegally creating a telephone exchange.

The men are also accused of “disrupting the country’s security,” as per a press note sent by Army Intelligence and law enforcement.

According to Sandeep Patil, joint commissioner of police, Crime, and head of the Central Crime Branch (CCB), the men had set up 30 electronic devices to install 32 SIM cards across six locations in BTM Layout.

Using more than 900 SIM cards which unauthorisedly converted ISD calls into local calls, they were enabling third-party callers to circumvent the telecom service.

“It is a case of cheating. Beyond this, they and others were involved in more illegal things. Calls were coming in from the Middle East. For example, a member of the underworld sitting abroad doing an extortion call. They were camouflaging their number. More serious things may come to note.”

Pant announced a reward of Rs 30,000 for information about the other suspects.

Police said Ibrahim was the owner of all the SIM boxes. The team was led by ATC unit officials ACP B R Venugopal and P I Bharat.

Published 09 June 2021, 19:26 IST

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