Gujarat Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) and Vadodara Special Operations Group (SOG) Saturday jointly busted a network of illegal VoIP exchange in Vasana area of Vadodara and arrested one of the four accused booked in the case.
Shehzad Mohammad Rafiq Malek, a resident of the Tandalja area of Vadodara, was nabbed from a shop in a commercial complex named Siddharth Excellence, located on Vasna Road in Vadodara, where the alleged VoIP call centre had been set up.
A release from the Gujarat ATS said, “The interrogation of Shehzad revealed the involvement of three other persons, namely, Haroon Abdul Natwani, Ishaq Sachin Raj and Jinny Anil Vaswani — all residents of Mira-Bhayander area of Thane district of Maharashtra. Vaswani is the tenant of the shop at Vasna Road, where the alleged call VoIP exchange centre has been set up but the racket is being operated from Maharashtra.”
The ATS also said that illegal VoIP exchange helps in concealing the identity of the international numbers as well as preventing tracing the call back to the original source. “This act is illegal under The Indian Telegraph Act and not only does it cause financial loss to the nation but poses a threat to national security,” the ATS said.
The ATS and SOG said they have seized a JioFi router, WiFI router, CPU, and other computer hardware and software, worth Rs 46750 and booked a case at the JP Road police station in Vadodara.
The Vadodara city police said that the accused had forged computer source documents and illegally used a Postpaid Primary Rate Interface (PRI) line for VoIP call routing, in violation of the rules of the Directorate of Telecom (DoT). A PRI is an end-to-end, digital telecommunications connection that allows for 23 concurrent transmissions of voice, data, or video traffic between the network and the user.
Gujarat ATS Chief Himanshu Shukla told The Indian Express that the department chanced upon the racket while investigating another sensitive case. “We can’t divulge the details of the nature of the calls that these men were making but illegal VoIP calls are only used for nefarious purposes. It helps conceal the identity and communication for many organised crimes done through VoIP. This gang was making calls for anyone who paid them and we are probing the details.”
Vadodara SOG Police Inspector Smitesh Solanki said the gang had been operating the illegal VoIP exchange centre for the last two months and the probe was on to ascertain who had they made the calls for. “Who their clients are is not yet known nor is the purpose of their activity established. The three other accused are on the run and Shehzad, who has been detained from Tandalja, is unaware about the details as he claims he was only an operator,” Solanki said.
The accused have been booked under the Indian Penal Code for cheating (Section 420) and abetting crime (Section 114), tampering with computer source documents under section 65 of The Information Technology Act, 2000, establishing and maintaining or working unauthorised telegraph under Section 20 of The Indian Telegraph Act 1885, and for possessing wireless telegraphy apparatus in contravention with the law under section 6 of The Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act 1933