The Mumbai Police's Crime Branch and Jammu and Kashmir's Military Intelligence (MI) unit have busted an outsized spy network: using illegal VoIP, agents have made calls on the civil exchange of the Army's 14 Corps, demanding information on Army deployment and therefore the status of the Ladakh stand-off.
A suspect has been arrested in Mumbai. a search is underway to spot more culprits.
In May this year, several defence personnel received calls from suspicious numbers, seeking information associated with the Ladakh region and important defence installations. The callers used fictitious identities.
Sources said personnel at the exchange are trained to report suspicious calls by Pakistan Intelligence operatives (PIO). The calls are innocuous in nature; the caller often poses as an Indian secret agent .
Since the Ladakh stand-off between India and China began on May 5, calls are made to seek out out the Indian strategy.
Suspecting the ISI's involvement, military intelligence and Mumbai Crime Branch officials took action. It emerged that a couple of illegal VoIP exchanges were operational in Mumbai, from which incoming calls from Pakistan were routed to local numbers. The routine was getting used to extract information from defence personnel.
In a joint operation on May 28, the Crime Branch and MI unit were successful in busting illegal VoIP exchange/SIM boxes.
The exchanges converted international voice calls originating from Pakistan into local GSM calls using Chinese SIM Boxes (boxes fitted with GSM SIM cards of local cellular service providers).
The SIM boxes used a dynamic IMEI system that made them difficult to trace . this technique has been declared illegal by the Telecom regulatory agency of India.
Investigations thus far have revealed that the busted exchanges caused revenue losses worth crores to the telecom department.