J&K State Investigation Agency (SIA) on Saturday carried out raids at 19 different locations in the Valley in connection with 11 FIRs registered in connection with increasing misuse of SIM cards by militants, their overground workers (OGWs) associates, narcotics smugglers and other criminals.
According to a statement by SIA, A majority of the premises belonged to Point of Sale (POS) vendors who sold these cards in violation of Department of Telecom regulations and in a manner that amounts to forgery and cheating. In three cases preliminary evidence strongly indicated that the SIM cards were procured to help the militants in maintaining their communication with their handlers across the border and other modules inside J&K, the agency said.
One PoS vendor in Chawalgam in Kulgam under the name M/S Airtel Micro World created a SIM card against a non-existent person namely Gowhar Ahmad Hajam and gave the SIM card to a person in Qaimoh in Kulgam who turned out to be an OGW of militant outfit Ansar Gazwatul Hind. In yet another case, a PoS vendor of Mir Mohalla Monghall of Anantnag created a SIM card for a subscriber who handed it over to an OGW of Hizbul Mujahideen outfit.
The houses of all the three (the vendor, the subscriber and the OGW) were searched to look for additional evidence. Similarly, in a third instance, four POS vendors one belonging to Konibal in Pampore, another to Walina, Ichgam in Budgam, the third one to Barzullah in Srinagar and forth one to Lasjan created SIM cards in the name of real persons by stealing their identity and misusing their identity documents. Subsequently these POS vendors fraudulently gave the SIM cards to unauthorised persons without the knowledge of the original persons.
"A majority of the premises belonged to Point of Sale (PoS) vendors who sold these cards in violation of Department of Telecom regulations and in a manner that amounts to forgery and cheating. In three cases preliminary evidence strongly indicated that the SIM cards were procured to help the militants in maintaining their communication with their handlers across the border and other modules inside J&K," SIA added. During searches, incriminating material and electronic gadgets which include 20 mobile phones, 37 SIM cards, five laptops, three hard drives, one pen drive, one external hard disc, one Jio Wifi Router, six Stamps, 48 documents, six Registers, 15 photographs etc pertaining to the investigation were seized to carry out further analysis.
"The government has decided to take stringent measures against POS SIM card sellers who are found to be stealing identity documents of unsuspecting subscribers and creating SIM cards without the knowledge of original subscribers," the statement noted. "Similarly POS SIM card sellers who are found creating SIM cards on the basis of forged documents in the name of persons who do not exist in real life will also be proceeded against by invoking the most stern provisions of law."
Action would also be taken against POS SIM card sellers and subscribers who obtain SIM cards in excess of 6 cards which is the maximum number of SIM cards a person is allowed, the agency asserted. "POS SIM card sellers and individual subscribers who voluntarily come to the police station and surrender their excess SIM cards (more than 6) would escape criminal liability".
Telephone service providers have been strongly advised to maintain proper database to prevent dishonest POS SIM card sellers and subscribers to cheat the system by not disclosing their already issued SIM cards obtained from other service providers at the time of applying for additional new card.