BHOPAL: An Indian Air Force (IAF) Wing Commander, who posed as union home minister Amit Shah to Madhya Pradesh Governor Lalji Tandon over phone for facilitating dental surgeon friend’s appointment as state’s medical university vice-chancellor earlier this month, had actually used a VIP phone number whose SIM card was secured from Assam using fake Electors Photo Identity Card (EPIC).
On January 10, Wing Commander Kuldip Vaghela (who was posted at the IAF HQ in New Delhi) and Bhopal-base dental surgeon Dr Chandresh Shukla were arrested by the Madhya Pradesh Police’s Special Task Force (MPSTF) for allegedly trying to dupe the state’s Governor over phone by posing as the union home minister and his personal assistant respectively.
Subsequent investigations revealed that the mobile phone number used to make the call to Raj Bhawan’s landline number on January 3 was a post paid VIP number having the Calling Line Identification Restriction (CLIR) that was secured from a major private sector cellular service provider in Assam using the fake EPIC.
When a number is withheld, there is no caller ID, which means the recipient cannot see who is calling. A number can be withheld during digital, analogue or voice-over-IP (VoIP) telephone calls. The process of withholding a number is also called Calling Line Identification Restriction (CLIR). Whenever calls are made from such numbers, the recipient of the call usually sees “private number” or “unknown number” on his cell-phone display.
Surprisingly, the concerned post-paid SIM card was secured from Guwahati in April 2019, almost nine months before it was actually used in the cheating by impersonation case. Not only this, but the VIP number was secured using a fake EPIC, which bore an imaginary voter ID number, a third person’s picture (who was neither Vaghela nor Dr Shukla) in Dr Chandresh Shukla’s name who was shown as resident of Assam.
“For issuing VIP/CLIR number SIM cards, a proper security process needs to be followed, which includes no objection certificate (NOC) from concerned state government – in this case Assam government – that is issued only after proper security verification by intelligence wing of concerned state police. Also, once the number is issued and activated, the cellular service provider who issued the SIM Card has to ensure status report of the concerned number to police at regular intervals. In this case, however, it seems the tough security verification process was bypassed,” ADG-MPSTF Ashok Awasthi told The New Indian Express on Saturday.
Further, the VIP/CLIR number SIM card (which entails a premium price) once issued from Guwahati wasn’t activated in security-sensitive Assam, but was instead activated from Andhra Pradesh and used in the cheating by impersonation case in Bhopal nine months later on January 3, 2020.
Importantly, an MPSTF team is presently camping in Assam and will next go to Andhra Pradesh in connection with the probe, after which the concerned officials of the cellular service provider and other involved in the inter-state fraud will be booked in the case, sources confided.
Meanwhile, in a related development, the MP Police has written to Raj Bhawan to remove Dr Chandresh Shukla from Executive Council of Madhya Pradesh Medical Science University (MPMSU-Jabalpur).
Importantly, Wing Commander Kuldip Vaghela had allegedly committed the impersonation fraud on January 3, 2020 to facilitate the appointment of Dr Chandresh Shukla to the post of MPMSU-Jabalpur VC for which the dental surgeon had already been interviewed by the Search Committee constituted by the state’s Governor in the capacity as varsity’s Chancellor.
Shukla who was the personal dentist to previous MP Governors, Ram Naresh Yadav and Anandiben Patel had become Wing Commander Vaghela’s friend, while the IAF officer was posted as aide-de-camp (ADC) to then Madhya Pradesh Governor Ram Naresh Yadav in 2014.