- Photographs of one person were reportedly used to prepare numerous SIM cards under different names and identities
- A probe has been launched to ascertain who all have used these fraudulently prepared SIM cards
- SIM cards have been deactivated; however, efforts are being made to identify subscribers on papers
According to the official, two premises belonging to ‘Bhat Telecom’ proprietor Javid Ahmad Bhat were searched in Gugloosa’s Mohalla Gunwari.
He said that what led to the probe was an allegation that the ‘Bhat Telecom’ proprietor was part of a conspiracy with overground workers (OGWs), terrorist groups’ sympathisers, and narcotic smugglers who used fraudulent and dishonest methods to prepare and sell SIM cards of various telecom companies.
According to the official, prima facie evidence suggests that forging of records occurred as photographs of one person were used to prepare numerous SIM cards under different names and identities.
“It is being investigated if this is the only method or if other ways and means have been adopted for forging required documents for obtaining SIM cards,” said the official.
He added that an investigation has been launched into who all have used these fraudulently prepared SIM cards, and how many of them have been used by terrorists, their associates, drug smugglers, arms and ammunition smugglers, as well as those who have been taking care of terror funding, especially dumping proceeds from narcotics sales into different bank accounts.
During the search, incriminating materials such as digital devices, SIM cards, SD cards, compact disks, bank slips, and documents relevant to the investigation were recovered and seized.
“Out of about 28,000 SIM card vendors, over 1,000 vendors are under scanner for issuing these fraudulent SIM cards to fictitious persons,” he said, adding that the SIM cards have been deactivated, but subscribers on papers are still being identified based on available truncated details.
“They will be questioned to reach the actual users,” said the official, noting that call records and technology will also be used to identify the actual users.
The authorities are approaching the competent courts of law for the purpose of getting records that will help them determine whether the SIM card was used by a terrorist or known OGW or a drug smuggler or a prisoner, he added.
“Those SIM card sellers and subscribers who will voluntarily cooperate will be entitled to benefits available under law,” said the official.
According to the official, PoS vendors selling SIM cards have no choice but to tighten their belts and can’t avoid liability in cases where it is proved that the SIM cards prepared with forged documents have been used by terrorists and cross-border criminals.
“Similarly, subscribers also will come under the legal liability of aiding and abetting crime, especially if their cards have been used inside jails or used to communicate to terrorist handlers sitting across in Pakistan,” a senior SIA investigator said.