Tamil Nadu terror plot discovered on Bangalore blasts day

July 30th, 2008 - 3:18 pm ICT by IANS  

By T.S.V. Hari
Chennai, July 30 (IANS) Tamil Nadu police were on to the plot to trigger explosions in the state and elsewhere in India on Independence Day within hours of the blasts in Bangalore, though the world came to know about it two days later. It was the crucial discovery of mobile phones and SIM cards during a surprise check Friday in a high security prison that led police to the terror trail, according to Additional Director General of Police (Prisons) R. Nataraj.

“Friday’s surprise check in the high security Puzhal prison found Pakistan- trained terrorist P. Ali Abdullah using two mobile phones. His attempts to destroy them and their SIM cards were foiled by preventing his attempts to swallow them. They are now being decoded to reveal details,” Nataraj told IANS.

It was this information that led to the arrest of Abdul Ghaffoor and others, foiling a plot to set off explosions on Aug 15.

Four people have been arrested in connection with the plot and they are also suspected to be linked to the blasts in Bangalore Friday and Ahmedabad Saturday that together claimed over 50 lives.

“We knew Abdullah’s past record and his attempts to blow up eight trains for which he is undergoing trial. Our hunch on the basis of 104 mobile phones seized in the state’s prisons in one year has paid rich dividends,” Nataraj said.

The top cop believes mobile phone service providers are not being careful enough while providing connections.

“In their quest to increase their business, mobile telephony companies are still giving away too many SIM cards without proper documentation. This may seem innocuous but the fact that bombs can be remotely detonated by such instruments with a single call sends a chill down one’s spine,” Nataraj said.

He said tiny plastic-wrapped SIM cards are smuggled into prisons in bananas and other foodstuff brought by visitors or during the prisoner’s return from parole. In exchange for the odd packet of cigarettes or small fee, warders allow the entry of cell phones into prisons on such occasions.

The use of mobile telephony in prisons cannot be completely stopped with indigenously available technology.

“The word jammers sound good, but indigenous ones are ineffective due to various factors like walls, line of sight, radio-frequencies and developing technology. Cutting edge research like what Israel does is the need of the hour because they are tackling worse problems on a daily basis with some degree of success,” Nataraj averred.

According to him, security can be improved by converting the voter ID card into a national identity number essential for virtually everything - from a passport, driving licence, mobile phone, ration card, bank account, income-tax return or any other transaction.

All one needs to ensure is its genuineness by an indelible hologram that cannot be forged. If applied strictly, virtually nobody will be able to buy an untraceable SIM. And transgressors can then be strictly prosecuted, Nataraj said.

Incidentally, it was Nataraj’s experience in tracking the movements of forest brigand Veerappan as the head of the Special Task Force that paved the way for his successor. Veerappan was finally killed in a police encounter in 2004.

“Veerappan’s methods were the same as international terrorists. His contacts used odd marks on tree trunks and village walls, SIM cards with fake addresses and a network of informers. The experience to monitor his movements helped.”

“If we are to stop terrorism in its tracks, we have to improve and be alert at all times. For instance, we have begun checking prison cells and their inmates twice a day.

“Any contraband is strictly being prevented - from metals, plastics, drugs, alcohol, weapons et al. It yielded results.

“Finding completely incorruptible officials all the time is impossible, but achieving a decent degree of effectiveness through alertness is.”

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