Some questions on the Dawood-Khadse story we must ask

The last few days, a story which is shaking the core of the Maharashtra Government is about the alleged links of a State minister, Eknath Khadse, with wanted criminal Dawood Ibrahim. The story doing the rounds is about call details of Dawood Ibrahim’s Pakistan landline number, which is held in the name of his wife, to Eknath Khadse.

It is known that certain sections of Mumbai politicians have connections with the underworld, and in some rare cases, the fine line dividing them does indeed get blurred. But in this particular case, there are some loopholes in the facts being put out, which raise doubts about the story. Khadse can be let off or held guilty only after a thorough investigation, but prima facie, these are some issues which come up, to which clarifications are needed:

1. The “Invoice”

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Rahul Kanwal recently tweeted out a document from the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTCL) and claimed it was the “invoice” which shows the call details.

Unlike the copies of the material shared above, the actual PTCL “invoice” of Mehajabeen Dawood’s for April 2016 looks totally different.

Invoice Copy

The above Invoice can be obtained from the PTCL site by entering the Phone No and Account ID. No need for any “hackers”. The copy of the actual invoice shows that the document shared by Kanwal is a “Service Request” and not an invoice. It is pertinent to ask if any telecommunication Company gives phone number specific details upon request? Does any telecom company provide personal details without verification to any person and without any FIR or Court order or request from any competent authority in Pakistan?

2. The hacker who writes an “application”

Great, so now we have the call details. How were they obtained may one ask? According to Rahul Kanwal, the “hacker placed the request”. So are we to believe that the hacker spoofed the online identity of Dawood’s wife (in whose name all the numbers are registered), placed the request and got the data out? If so, it is pertinent to mention here that, as confirmed by the authors, PTCL does not entertain any online ‘request’ procedure and it only acts on in-person requests at the local exchanges throughout Pakistan, which seems to be a fairly reasonable procedure. So Rahul Kanwal’s version doesn’t hold ground.

On the other hand, the hacker, Bhangale, himself has a different version. He claims he “was able to get the call detail records by hacking into the website of PTCL and typing in the Customer Identity and Exchange Code for the telephone numbers that were registered in Mehjabeen Shaikh’s name”. Kanwal might have got confused and might have said “place request” but surely, the hacker who himself got the data must be telling the truth?

Even the hacker’s version falls flat since, if indeed the hacker had hacked and got the info, the call records would not be available in the form of a “request” given to the subscriber Mehjabeen Shaikh! If the hacker had access to the PTCL main database, why would he “request for data” when he could simply download it?

In short, there is no certainty as to exactly how the data was obtained. This angle needs to be probed thoroughly since a document can’t be trusted if the source is dubious.

3. Call from phone in wife’s name to phone in name of minister?

In India, it doesn’t take much to get a sim card. Even in Pakistan, one would imagine the case to be the same. In such a situation, it seems odd that a wanted gangster, would call a number which is registered in a minister’s name, from a number which is in his wife’s name. Both caller and receiver can be traced within no time. It is indeed amusing that an Internationally wanted criminal has made such a rookie error of calling from his wife’s number when the technology today allows multiple safer options.

4. Who can obtain a backdated call history?

When contacted, the PTCL team told the authors that backdated call logs and history can only be provided when the titled customer (Mahjabeen in this case) visits the branch and no one can access this information online as it isn’t available there. PTCL does have an online billing system and once the relevant details for the landline number are provided the actual invoice is downloadable in a PDF format

The ethical hacker Manish Bhangale who claims to have “hacked” into the system should answer these questions. A little background check on him throws up some interesting details. Mr. Bhangale claims to be working for Government of India Intelligence Agencies and “Police of India” as per details which allegedly he himself has uploaded. It is unclear if he really does work for the Government of India.

At this stage, there are quite a few questions which are unanswered. There are some other issues with the document posted by Rahul Kanwal, like the poor grammar and spellings, inconsistencies of fonts etc, which could be put down to a bad photoshop job or just plain Pakistani incompetency. Or the fact that there are some minor differences in bill amounts: India Today mentioned that this telephone number 021-35871719 “In March 2016,  had a bill of Rs 5689.53 was generated on this number.” but the actual bill is of Rs 5,691.

All in all, the cops are right in doing a second more detailed investigation so that the truth is out. If the minister is found guilty, strictest action must be taken against him in order to facilitate the capture of Dawood Ibrahim Hope the answers to above questions too will be revealed.

by – Ashutosh and Alok

Articles on Corporate Laws, Policy, Economics and Politics.
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