The intelligence agencies have sounded an alert in the border areas of Punjab and Akhnoor, in Jammu, after a series of phone calls have been received by residents of border villages from Pakistani agents using Indian SIM cards where the caller has tried to elicit information about Army units.
A senior official in Western Command informed The Indian Express that the most recent call was received this morning from an Indian mobile number by the Sarpanch of Malpur Village, Babhishan Singh, in Akhnoor area of Jammu. The caller identified himself as an officer of an intelligence agency calling from New Delhi and sought information about the location of an infantry battalion of the Indian Army and certain other details pertaining to neighbouring villages as well as the evacuation of people living in border areas.
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The phone number was found to be carrying an identity of ‘Pak 1′ when the number was traced on a software by the intelligence agencies. It is learnt that several such calls have also been made to villagers in Punjab in order to find out the deployment of Army units and other information which may be of tactical help to the adversary.
Senior Army officials disclosed that a large number of such calls have been made in the immediate aftermath of the cross-LoC strike carried out by the Indian Army in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK). “It is quite clear that attempts are being made in the garb of being senior government officials to contact Sarpanches and other influential people in the border region who may have knowledge of military movement in their respective areas,” the senior officer said.
The police, as well a intelligence agencies, have launched a drive in the border areas to sensitise the people living there not to disclose any information which may compromise the location of the military units or give away the deployment pattern. “Since most villagers are aware that calls from across the border carry the international dialing code ’92’, the Pakistani intelligence operatives have started using Indian Sim cards so that the receiver of the calls does not suspect that the call is being made from Pakistan,” a senior official said. He added that while most people had a higher level of awareness in the border areas regarding security yet it was essential to carry out a drive to reinforce the need for security.
Residents of border areas along the International Border in Punjab as well as Jammu and Kashmir have also been told to be on the lookout if any person is found to be taking photographs of defensive positions like bunkers, ditch-cum-bundh or the culverts and bridges along the Indo-Pak border. They have also been asked to notice the presence of outsiders and inform the local police station immediately if they suspect any suspicious movement.
Retired military officers inform that during the military deployment of Operation Parakram in 2001-2002, the Pakistani intelligence agents would call up on the landline numbers of the military units in order to try and verify their movements. Soon after this modus operandi was discovered, the military discarded direct dialing civilian telecommunication numbers for their units and an internal calling mechanism was devised which was not accessible from civilian telecommunication network.