Meghalaya: Suspected SIM cards on police radar, over 2,500 disconnected

Extortion threats from unknown persons as well as militant groups have caused concern in the Meghalaya police which has zeroed in on a set of numbers for verification by Telecom operators.

Last Updated: Dec 16, 2010, 20:46 PM IST

Shillong: Extortion threats from unknown
persons as well as militant groups have caused concern in the
Meghalaya police which has zeroed in on a set of numbers for
verification by Telecom operators.

The Meghalaya Police Special Branch has sent two separate
lists, one with 448 numbers and another with 3026 numbers
to Aircel for verification, Additional Director General
(special branch) SK Jain told PTI today.
The Telecom operator has written back saying that some
2,500 numbers in the list have been disconnected and that most
of them were bulk connections, company sources said.

The development follows an extortion call to an MLA of
Meghalaya.

The caller was picked up by the police at Baghmara in
Meghalaya’s South Garo Hills district and he, the police says,
was not linked to any militant group.

Following the trail, the police picked up for questioning
an executive of Aircel posted at Tura who allegedly issued
over 1,000 connections in a single name.

Officer in charge of Tura Police Station D K Rajbongshi
said a case (number 297 (12/10)) has been registered against
Aircel territorial manager A Gupta under sections 406/420 of
the IPC.

Gupta is suspected to have been involved in the
misappropriation of over 3,000 SIM cards.

Gupta was later released on bail.

Police sources said mobile companies were flooding the
market with SIM cards without any proper documentation and
some of the numbers have landed in the hands of miscreants and
militants.
Numbers registered in places like Manipur and Nagaland
have been traced to persons who are living in Garo hills for
months together, the police said.

At least two Meghalaya MLAs besides local level
politicians in Garo hills, traders and traditional chiefs have
been getting extortions calls over the last few months.

There is an estimated 10 million mobile phone users in
the Northeastern states.

Since the later part of 2004, when pre-paid connections
were re-introduced after they were lifted for some time, the
license for pre-paid connections has been awarded on an annual
basis in the Northeast.

Currently, on directions of the Department of Telecom,
the operators are carrying out an exercise of verification of
all their customers.

PTI