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Military intelligence busted illegal telephone exchange racket with Pakistani roots

The Military Intelligence wing of the Indian Army unraveled an illegal telephone exchange in Bengaluru after a call from a Pakistani spy agency to an Army installation in eastern India. This has raised concern about whether similar systems were active in other parts of the country, officials said on Thursday. 

The entire racket was busted by the intelligence wing of the Army’s Southern Command which has intercepted the call received at the Army installation in eastern India a few weeks ago.  

During the call, a Pakistani spy was asking about general duties while posing as a senior officer. On further probe, the intelligence sleuths found that some other offices located in various formations such as the Movement Control Office (MCO) as well as the Principal Comptroller of Defence Account (PCDA) were also receiving such calls.  

A deeper investigation led to the unraveling of the scam in which Pakistan-based intelligence operatives exploited such illegal exchanges to route their calls to connect with Indian citizens and obtain information of military information.  

The officials said that Pakistani intelligence operatives have adopted the way of investigating illegal call exchanges that switch Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls to normal Indian mobile calls. To implement this illegal operation, SIM boxes are used which run a parallel illegal telephone exchange.  

A Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) box, also known as a SIM bank, is a hardware-based device used in the telecom sector for the termination of direct Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) communication. 

The racket came to light after the anti-terror cell of Bengaluru Police, with the help of Military Intelligence of the Southern Command, arrested two men who ran an illegal telephone exchange, converting international calls to local ones, causing a huge revenue loss, and posing a threat to national security. 

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