The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) is in the last leg of its investigation into allegations that calls were made to BJP leader and former revenue minister Eknath Khadse’s mobile phone from a Karachi number believed to be of fugitive criminal Dawood Ibrahim.
Sources in the ATS said the state counter-terrorism agency had already received call data records (CDR) for three months from Idea Cellular company. By Thursday, the service provider is expected to provide the CDRs for another month as sought by the agency.
“The ATS had sought the CDR of all the four months. While they have received the same of three months, records of one month are yet to be shared by the service provider, which is expected latest by Thursday,” said an official.
Last month, a Gujarat-based ethical hacker, Manish Bhangale, had claimed that calls were received on Khadse’s Idea mobile phone number from a Pakistan-based landline registered in the name of Dawood’s wife Mehjabeen.
However, the Mumbai Police Crime Branch, which initially probed the allegation, soon gave Khadsa a clean chit in the matter.
Subsequently, Bhangale had claimed that the period during which the calls were allegedly received was not September 2015 to April 2016 but January 2015 to April 2015. The probe was then handed over to the Maharashtra ATS.
“Initially, Bhangale cited the period during which the calls were made to be between September 2015 and April 2016. Since it was less than a year, CDR of the said period was easily procured and studied. The allegations were found unfounded and a clean chit was given to Khadse,” a senior official from the home department told The Indian Express. “However, since he altered his stance regarding when the calls were supposed to have been received, a fresh probe was ordered and the ATS was asked to investigate,” the official added.
Explaining the delay in sourcing the CDR, a source said it was a time-consuming matter for the service provider to extract records beyond last 12 months from their “main dump”. “Since the new period cited by the hacker is beyond one year…the data is not readily available. Once the data for all the four months is available, it will be studied to ascertain the veracity of the claims,” added the official.
The ATS is expected to submit a status report shortly after probing all the stakeholders.
The agency had summoned Bhangale for questioning last week but the ethical hacker failed to turn up. “Only he could explain the procedure and the source,” said another senior home department official.
On Monday, Bhangale had moved the Bombay High Court seeking a CBI probe into the case. His petition is scheduled to be heard on June 14.