Phone calls from prisons: Kerala for NIA probe

via PNS | Thiruvananthapuram published on November 7, 2011

The Kerala Government has written a letter to the Union Home Department seeking an NIA probe into the issue of prisoners in the State’s jails making phone calls to overseas numbers. The request is based on a report of Additional DGP (Prisons) Alexander Jacob, which had generated concerns that these calls were connected to terror operations.

The letter, prepared by K Jayakumar, Additional Chief Secretary in the State Home Department, was reportedly sent to the Union Government on Saturday evening. The Government has clarified that an NIA probe was necessary as the State’s investigation agencies have limitations in the issue due to its international ramifications.

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 matter had come up for serious discussions in the State Assembly on October 22 during which Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had hinted at the possibility of calling for an investigation by a Central agency. The Kerala Government’s request to the Centre came close on the heels of the reported Central instruction to the State to furnish details of the development.

Reports from Delhi said on Sunday that the Union Home Ministry had written to the Kerala Department of Prisons calling for the entire information on the mysterious calls. Sources in the State Prisons Department could not confirm or deny the reports but said a reply could be given only after getting Government clearance which would now come only on Tuesday.

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 caller could have been using satellite technology to evade mobile switching towers.

According to experts, the report on the use of satellite phones was 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.

The ADGP’s report had called for the intervention of the NIA, IB and RAW for further inquiries into the development and examination by them of the details of the confiscated phones. He had clearly stated that the understaffed jail security system or mobile jamming was not sufficient to check the use of phones by prisoners.

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