Disguised as MTNL employees, a gang of thieves used to work late into the night. Wearing helmets and holding guide maps, they dug through a sewer and pulled out telephone lines from under the ground. They even got a crane to pull out heavy wires and made it appear like a task entrusted to them by the telephone agency.
In the space of two days they were able to pull out a major chunk of the copper cable wires — blacking out telephone and internet service to South Delhi localities such as Malviya Nagar, Hauz Khas, Shivalik and Green Park.
The incident came to the fore after complaints of dead telephone lines and no internet connectivity started pouring into the South Delhi branch of MTNL and the branch manager sent his team to identify and fix the fault.
“After we started receiving complaints from the entire area, I rushed to check the fault. I first checked the readings of all lines and then went to the spot where the cables were laid. I pulled the lid off the manhole and was shocked to see that there were no wires in there. Somebody had stolen the wires, cutting off internet service in the entire area. It killed all the landlines too,” a sub-divisional engineer at MTNL said. “They had pulled out 2400X0.4mm copper wires worth Rs 2,50,000.” he said.
Police were immediately informed and a team was sent to the spot for inspection. To police’s amazement, the thieves had not dug up the stretch under which the cables were laid. Instead, they opened the manhole next to the sewer and dug a tunnel to reach the cable network.
“They used to dig every night. After digging for one night, they used to close the lid of the manhole and then return the next night. Since everything was happening under the manhole, nothing was visible above ground. The thieves even got a crane to pull out the cables. They dressed as MTNL employees to fool the security and police personnel doing rounds in the area,” a senior police officer said.
Police have registered a case of theft and are carrying out an investigation. They are questioning residents in the vicinity to get a description of the “MTNL employees” who undertook this con job. The MTNL has now issued a notification stating that if any of their employee is seen working at a site post 6 pm, then the branch manager be immediately informed.
“Even the telephone of the ACP officer and the police station are dead. It is very tragic that some people cannot even spare public property that is meant to be for their use. It will take a lot of time to repair the damage caused and revive the connections,” an MTNL engineer said.