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13 SIM cards used by drug lord in Tihar cell, says Crime Branch

Jail officials said call detail records point to drug kingpin Sharafat Sheikh and two jail wardens.

As many as 13 SIM cards were used on a single mobile phone by drug kingpin Sharafat Sheikh from his high security cell in Jail Number 5 in Tihar, a report submitted by the Delhi Crime Branch to the Tihar prison stated.

The report, jail officials said, also mentions the role of two jail wardens. Their call detail records (CDR) reveal that they were regularly in touch with Sheikh inside prison.

Following the report, Tihar authorities have ordered for a study to check the effectiveness of the mobile jammers inside the cell. A separate inquiry has been ordered against the wardens, Narender and Mukesh Tanwar, who have been suspended pending inquiry. Also, the superintendent of Jail Number 5 has been asked to reply to the Crime Branch report.

Jail officials said they are verifying if Sheikh had given cell phones to other prison inmates to contact their associates and family members.

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Sheikh, who is lodged in cell number 4 of the high security ward of Jail Number 5, has been booked under NDPS, MCOCA and the NSA Act. According to police, he was running an organised drug racket in Delhi between 1998 and 2005.

Documents of 22 properties, worth more than Rs 10 crore, including that of a dance bar in Mumbai, were recovered from Sheikh’s wife Fatima in 2006 when she was arrested from Chanakyapuri.

Jail officials said they received the Crime Branch report last month. During a surprise check in March last year, Tihar officials recovered a mobile phone from Jail Number 5, following which the then DIG had asked the Crime Branch to probe the matter.

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The Crime Branch conducted a year-long probe, seeking details and CDRs of all 13 SIM cards used on the phone. All the SIMs  were registered to fake addresses, the report said. All 13 were pre-paid GSM cards belonging to various mobile operators.

According to the report, an analysis of CDRs revealed that numerous calls had been made to Sheikh’s family members — Mohammed Shahid, Fatima, Wasim Sheikh and Zoheb. Narender and Tanwar have also been named in the report for making regular calls to Sheikh and other prisoners who may have used the phone, officials said.

Police, however, said they could not verify whether any criminal offence had been committed by the prisoners with the help of the SIM cards as they were not monitored by police or intelligence agencies.

First published on: 13-09-2014 at 12:54:33 am
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