Two terror attacks, one at Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad and the other at Dargah Sharif in Ajmer, were triggered by mobile phones. Investigations revealed that in both the cases, the SIM cards were taken in the same fictitious name — Babulal Yadav — and the picture given for the purpose of verification was that of a Noida-based yoga teacher, Tarak Nath, who protested when his photo was published as a suspect after the Hyderabad blast.
What was the motive behind spinning the same story for procuring mobiles for the deadly missions? At one level, it was to proclaim that the same terror outfit had carried out the attacks. At another, it was done to mock at our security system.
The procedure for getting a mobile phone connection, you probably know, has been tightened — the service providers can't give it without verifying the subscriber's identity and bona fides. Obviously, the jihadis were thumbing their noses at this "tightening".
You would imagine that after this gratuitous taunt, the authorities would have plugged the holes. But, no. Only two days ago, TOI acquired two SIM cards under fictitious names.
It could have been under any name. We chose the names of home secretary Madhukar Gupta and Intelligence Bureau director P C Haldar. It's not that any one service provider is lax, most of them are, with the exception of state-owned BSNL and MTNL.
The connection in the name of Gupta is a post-paid one from Vodafone (9873310143) and Haldar's a pre-paid Airtel connection (9958784077).
The shady agent who got us the connections bragged that he could provide any connection, under any name.
Given the speed with which he delivered the new SIM cards — all of 48 hours — and activated the connections, this didn't seem an idle boast.
We might have identified the agent if that would have plugged the hole in our security. But the entire apparatus of identity checks is really a sieve — it leaks at all places. In the race for getting more customers, the mobile phone operators have appointed area agents who, in turn, have recruited boys — neither of whom have any appreciation of security needs; their aim is to simply boost numbers.
As a result, not only are connections given with flimsiest of checks, there is proactive help for the necessary paperwork — identity proof and the rest are "arranged" by the boys. We, for instance, merely gave the names in which we wanted the connections. We don't know whose pictures or what addresses have been used or who confirmed proof of residence. All we had to do was pay Rs 200 for the post-paid connection and Rs 150 for the pre-paid connection.
Truly, it's a frightening situation. After recording a terror toll that's the highest in the world after Iraq, it is frightening that India takes its security so casually.
NEW DELHI, 19 Oct 2007, Pradeep Thakur,TNNVerification a sham: Here's a SIM in home secy's name-India-The Times of India