By Rohit Alok
Investigations against a 73-year-old accused who was arrested earlier this year for allegedly selling illegal SIM cards have led to the arrest of four more accused and have revealed an ingenious racket where the gang allegedly specialised in selling SIM cards to sailors who did not have the requisite documents for them. The arrested accused include an employee of a major telecom company whose SIM cards were being sold, as well as a distributor for the company.
On January 23, the Mumbai Port Trust authorities had caught one Abdul Kalam Mahbulla Khan (73) with 14 SIM cards inside the dock area and handed him over to the Yellow Gate police.
Investigations revealed that all the cards were procured from a major telecom company on the basis of forged copies of Aadhaar cards.
Besides Khan, the police have arrested four more accused, identified as Akshay Nikam (22) Suhas Sridhankar (37), Rameshkumar Jain (44) and Atin Vats (29). Vats is a territory channel sales manager with the telecom company whose SIM cards are believed to be procured through bogus documents, while Jain is a distributor for the same firm.
“The accused devised a plan to procure and sell as many SIM cards as possible using forged copies of Aadhaar cards. For shipping crew, satellite phones are banned and international roaming is extremely expensive. Hence, the accused found a niche to do business, which was to supply SIM cards for internet and calling purposes to such sailors. Each SIM card was sold for at least Rs 700. Khan used to supply groceries to the crew members and used this interaction with the crew as an opportunity to sell the SIM cards,” said a police officer.
The police said at least 352 SIM cards were distributed since last November. Copies of Aadhaar cards that were used to procure the SIM cards have also been seized. The copies were found in Nikam and Sridhankar’s possession, the police said.
“Though this appears to be a recent practice at the docks, we are investigating for how long this had been going on and the extent of the racket. The Call Data Records do not reflect the location of any of the numbers as the numbers appear to be deactivated,” said the officer.