The Telegraph
Wednesday , October 20 , 2010
Since 1st March, 1999
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Software leads to cops using lost cellphone

Balurghat, Oct. 19: Two police constables have been accused of using a cellphone with a provision for dual SIM after a software in the handset informed the original owner about the calls that were being made from it after it went missing on June 14.

The software in the Maxx MX 333 model combined with the cellphone’s IMEI number had helped Samrat Nath track down constables Suraj Chhettri and Bachhu Sarkar, allegedly the current users of the phone.

Nath, who filed a complaint with the South Dinajpur police chief today, said at least three complaints filed with Balurghat police station earlier had been ignored. “It is probably because the constables are their colleagues. That is why Balurghat police station refused to take any action,” said Nath.

In this particular model of the phone, a message comes to the original number when the SIM is changed or a new SIM inserted. When Chhetri inserted a new SIM, a message came to Nath. Having lost his phone, Nath had already received duplicate SIMs of his original numbers from service providers BSNL and Airtel.

“When I got to know about the new number, I called up and came across Suraj Chhetri, a police constable posted at Balurghat police lines, as the owner of one of the SIMs. Chhetri had not realised that I was the original owner of the phone and he gave me away his name. I intimated the development to the Balurghat police station on August 27 in writing, quoting my IMEI number and the anti-theft feature of my phone,” he said. Similarly, when Sarkar inserted another SIM, Nath got another SMS.

But Balurghat police station ignored Nath’s complaints.

The IMEI or International Mobile Equipment Identity number is a unique 15 or 17-digit code of a specific cellphone. It uniquely identifies a specific mobile phone being used on a mobile network. The IMEI is useful in preventing a stolen handset from accessing a network. Mobile phone owners who have lost their handsets can ask their service providers to disable it by quoting the IMEI number.

The cellphone was lost when Nath was on his way to Balurghat from Gangarampur on an NBSTC bus. “I was carrying the handset which has provisions for dual SIM cards. When I noticed that it was missing, I searched the bus thoroughly but could not find it. After some time, I rang my number and found that the handset has been switched off and filed a written complaint in Balurghat police station,” he said. That was Nath’s first complaint, followed by two others. Both the constables have denied the charges.

Swapan Banerjee Purnapatra, the superintendent of police of South Dinajpur, said today: “As two policemen have been accused in the case, we will be extra careful so that a free and fair inquiry is conducted. In case they are found guilty, appropriate departmental proceedings would be taken against them.”

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