NIA yet to start probe into phone calls from Kerala prisons

via PNS | Kochi published on December 4, 2011

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is yet to start its investigation into the issue of prisoners in Kerala jails making phone calls to overseas numbers. What is preventing the agency from initiating the probe is the delay in registering cases in this regard. The State Government had requested an NIA probe into the issue as back as in the first week of November.

The decision to hand over the investigation to the NIA was taken on the basis of a discussion in the State Assembly on October 22. This discussion was based on a report submitted by Additional DGP (Prisons) Alexander Jacob to the State Government indicating that many of the secret calls made by prisoners could have terror connections.

The ADGP’s report, compiled as per instructions from the State Government, had generated a feeling that global terror had spread its tentacles into the prisons of Kerala. The report had contained enough reasons to believe that serious developments affecting national security had been taking place in the State’s prisons.

The Prisons Department has already handed over the entire information in its possession on the phone calls made by prisoners to the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). Cases would be registered only after the RAW completed its examination of the details provided by the Prisons Department. The NIA will be able to start the investigations only after that.

The issue of phone calls to overseas numbers, including Internet-based phones and satellite phones, had come up in Parliament, sources in the Kerala Home Department said. The House committee could ask for a NIA probe when the answer to this came, they said. They, however, expected the NIA to approach the Prisons Department in a week or two for more information.

Analyses of call details of some of the 120 mobile phones seized from prisons in the State had shown that several prisoners had been in contact with people outside India, even in countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Somalia. Even satellite phones could have come into play, the ADGP’s report had suggested.

As per the analyses provided by the High-Tech Cell of the police of over 3,500 calls made from or into 28 of the 120 phones stationed in the prisons, 297 had been between prison-based phones and those stationed outside India. It was also found that some of the callers could have been using satellite technology to evade tracking through mobile switching towers.

The report on the use of satellite phones was said to be extremely crucial considering the fact that such communication means had been used for the 26/11 Mumbai terror strike. They said that such phones could have been used most probably for terror operations as ordinary people could not afford such instruments that cost lakhs of rupees.

The ADGP’s report had said that calls from 5-digit numbers had been diverted to phones stationed probably in Pakistan, Afghanistan or Somalia. Records of calls from 4-digit numbers – Internet telephony – also were found in the analyses. According to experts, such calls could be used to detonate bombs connected through remote-sensing technology.

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