The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Breakthrough in BSNL scam

Jamshedpur, April 5: The district police team investigating the multi-crore international call scam in the local circle of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has stumbled upon a computer chip that can establish the involvement of senior telecom officials in the racket.

The chip was found a few days ago after a raid at the residence of Sanju alias Sagir of Kadma ' a member of the racket who had contacts in the BSNL top brass, police sources said. Spare circuits of BSNL telephone exchanges in rural areas like Chandil, Sini and Narwapahar were used to route international calls to customers at cheaper rates. The code for international calls can be accessed only by senior officials, who the police believe, received a major share of the kickbacks. The BSNL ended up incurring a revenue loss of over Rs 5 crore.

Deputy superintendent of police Sashi Kant Kujur, who is leading the investigation team, said the police have evidence that points to the involvement of senior telecom officials in the international call scam. 'Data recovered from the computer chip shows that even senior telecom officials were involved in the scam. They provided the secret access code of international subscribers and this was used by the racketeers through spare circuit in rural exchanges,' said Kujur.

Another source added, 'The data recovered from the chip clearly shows the involvement of over a dozen BSNL employees in various posts starting from the linesmen. Some of those involved hold ranks as high as the deputy general manager and general manager, who had access to all security codes.'

The code for international connectivity can be accessed only by senior officers above the rank of subdivisional officer up to general manager. 'But the code was used by a few linesmen and people who were not even BSNL officials. This shows the involvement of senior officers. We have collected evidence against some,' said a police source.

Police officials also said the racket could have spread as far as Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Pakistan where calls were frequently made. Kujur declined to reveal the names of the BSNL officials. The officials have access to all the records and can damage the evidence if they wish to, he said. He hinted that the police would zero in on some of the officials and start the interrogation.

The racket was unearthed in July 2003 after a case was lodged at the Sidhgora police station by Reliance Telecom alleging misuse of its services with help of some telecom employees in providing international call facilities at cheaper rates. Two subdivisional officers of telecom department R.N. Ram and D.C. Pal were the main accused. But the preliminary investigation did not yield enough evidence against them.

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