BHOPAL: Two-and-a-half years after the state police’s Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) busted an alleged Chinese SIM Box-enabled espionage and terror funding ring, a similar racket having key players in Satna district of Madhya Pradesh was unearthed on Wednesday evening.
Five, including a key member of the 2017 case, were detained by the Satna district police crime branch over the possibility of being part of a major racket which allegedly runs terror funding operations at the behest of people sitting across the international border.
The accused have been identified as Balram Singh, Bhagvendra Singh, Sunil Singh and Shubham Tiwari. The fifth accused is yet to be identified. The five, who were detained from different parts of the district on a tip-off from Indore police, are believed to have links in Indore and Bhopal.
According to police sources privy to the ongoing investigation, the seized cellphones of the accused contained over 15 contact numbers from Pakistan. The initial probe has revealed that the five were in touch with these phone numbers via WhatsApp calls and messages.
The five accused were also in touch with persons from Chhattisgarh, Bihar, West Bengal and Jharkhand, who too are part of similar rackets in their respective states.
A team of Madhya Pradesh ATS left on Wednesday evening for Satna to join the local crime branch in the probe, confirmed Satna district superintendent of police Riyaz Iqbal.
Sources added that one of the detained men Balram Singh (an ex-Bajrang Dal man) was also a part of the racket busted by MP ATS in February 2017. It’s suspected that the racket was revived again after Balram was released on bail a few months back. But the face of the possible terror funding racket this time was another Satna based youth Sunil Singh, who worked under the guidance of Balram and Bhagvendra, operating from behind the curtains.
It must be noted that the entire Vindhyan region also known as Baghelkhand has slowly emerged as a hotbed of ISI terror funding following the arrest of Balram and his aides, including Rajjan Tiwari and Sanyog Singh in 2017. In 2018, a youth from Rewa district and a few weeks back one Saurabh Shukla hailing from Sidhi district of the same region were arrested by the UP ATS in connection with similar terror funding racket.
As part of the multi-level spying and terror operations of ISI, the terror masters sitting across the border, used Chinese SIM Box based illegal phone exchanges (being operated by their local links from cubbyholes across India) to dupe Indian citizens via phone lottery frauds and other phone frauds to earn money which was parked in bank accounts of poor Indian citizens on the payment of monthly rent of Rs 2000 to Rs 5000 to the actual account holders.
The phone fraud money parked in such bank accounts, particularly in Satna and adjoining districts were subsequently routed by Balram and his men through hawala and other channels to fund ISI’s spying operations in the country.
Probe into the February 2017 racket had revealed that over 1000 bank accounts of poorer sections, including housewives in Satna and adjoining districts, were used to park the phone fraud money that was later routed to ISI spies in the country via hawala operators, some of whom were based in the bylanes of Old Delhi.