Cyber Journal 24, May 24, 2016
Maharashtra minister and senior BJP leader Eknath Khadse is in the headlines these days as his phone number has appeared in Dawood’s list of dialed numbers. Don’s phone bill was accessed by a hacker based in Gujarat. Let’s take a look at some points to understand this case from various angles.
AAP’s Maharashtra based leader Priti Menon Sharma shared Dawood’s phone call details during several of her press conferences last week. But, she is not the first one to bring this list in public domain. It was India Today’s managing editor Rahul Kanwal who first interacted with Gujarat based hacker Manish Bhangale on April 25th. The hacker even hacked PTCL website and opened Dawood’s landline bill during India Today’s show.
— Rahul Kanwal (@rahulkanwal) April 27, 2016
On April 26th, India Today said in its report that they have details for calls made using four phone numbers from Dawood’s Karachi mansion.
Did India Today allow AAP to take over this story and make baseless allegations?
“There are five numbers; one of these numbers belongs to Indian politician. We approached him for his reaction, we haven’t heard back, so, we are not naming him,”- said India Today’s managing editor during his show.
Surprisingly, India Today did not name Khadse at that point. What were they waiting for? Were they really waiting for minister’s explanation? Did THEY choose AAP and asked hacker Manish Bhangale to share his information with AAP leaders? One can come to this conclusion after looking at the overall time that the channel has given to this story and AAP leaders.
Another neta named by India Today is Congress’s former MLA from Assam-Rana Goswami. He interacted with journalists and claimed this is a political conspiracy as he had never made or received any phone calls from D company.
Kanwal said there are several politicians who are in touch with D. So, why are AAP leaders and Rawal Kanwal not disclosing names of other individuals whose numbers appear in the concerned list? Why are they selective in naming people?
Eknath Khadse’s explanation
“I never made any international calls using that number, so there is no question about speaking to Dawood. My telecom operator has also given me that information on paper, and this has been submitted to authorities. If I would have had made or received international calls, details for calls would have appeared in my call records,”- said senior BJP leader while interacting with Rahul Kanwal.
“Someone must have cloned or hacked my number. I was equally surprised when I learned that my number was mentioned in the concerned list. So, I urge people to file their complaints about this issue with national agencies to investigate this matter. I have asked CM Devendra Fadanvis to investigate this as soon as possible. The truth must come out,”- said minister Khadse.
Is SIM card cloning possible? The answer is yes, you can read this story from Firstpost for detailed explanation.
Former IPS officer PK Jain interacted with journalists and shared his opinion about the case. He said, according to available information, if Khadse has not answered calls from such numbers, neither has he dialed one of those numbers nor is he involved in any conversation, then there is no point in criticizing him on the basis of information provided by a hacker.
P K Jain
“It’s a matter of investigation, matter of inquiry. Was any such call answered? How long was the call? Is there any record of this conversation? I may have four five numbers and cannot use all of them at given time. These days, phone numbers can be hacked, morphed, ghost callers can easily use anyone’s number. All these points need to be investigated before coming to any conclusion,”-said the former IAS officer.
Something that does not make sense
Even high-school kids would be able to point out that calls going to Pakistan and those coming from Pakistan may be under the surveillance of security agencies in the country. Why in the world will any senior politician give his own phone number (registered on his name) to India’s enemy number one?
BJP’s stand on the issue
“I absolutely refute these unsubstantiated allegations against Mr. Khadse. There are no call records and there was no conversation. State’s Chief Minister has already ordered an investigation. We will rope in central agencies if required. We want to establish the truth.”-said BJP spokesperson Shaina NC.
Who is Eknath Khadse?
For those who do not know Eknath Khadse, he is BJP’s MLA from Jalgaon’s Muktainagar Assembly constituency. The 63-year-old leader currently holds eight ministries in Fadnavis government and is known for raising farmer issues in the Maharashtra Assembly even while sitting in the opposition. Unfortunately, his party’s alliance partner Shiv Sena does not share a good rapport with him.
Khadse was recently in the headlines when his close associate was allegedly caught asking for a bribe in a land deal.
Eknath Khadse has also served as leader of opposition in Maharashtra between 2009 and 2014. He had received several underworld threats in the past and was provided special security cover by Congress-NCP government. The senior leader had raised serious questions about links between underworld and leaders from Pawar’s NCP.
He was the first leader to ask NCP minister Fauzia Khan to resign when NIA found that 26/11 handler Abu Hamza had used Fauzia’s MLA hostel while he was planning Mumbai attacks.
The senior leader from Jalgaon was the main contender against Fadnavis for CM’s post at one time.
Anjali Damania had asked Khadse to resign this month because his son-in-law has modified his car. Then again she asked him to resign when Khadse’s former colleague Gajanan Patil was allegedly caught asking for a bribe in a land deal. Patil is in ACB’s custody and Khadse’s office is also under anti-corruption bureau’s scanner since more than a month. As of now, the ACB has not found anything against the minister or his ministries.
Anjali’s allegations are worth laughing, and besides that, she herself was accused of grabbing land meant for farmers and selling that at thrice the price for non farming activities. As far as AAP is concerned, they have not even spared country’s prime minister when it comes to targeting someone with baseless allegations.
Investigation is in initial stage
On 21st May, Atul C Kulkarni, Joint Commissioner of Mumbai Police (Crime) said they have found in the initial stage that no phone calls were made between Mr. Khadse’s number and Dawood’s landline numbers in question between September 2015 and April 2016. Investigation is still in the initial stage.
No calls made or received from the cell number(Eknath Khadse)to that of fugitive(Dawood),initial analysis shows:Jt CP(crime) Atul C Kulkarni
— ANI (@ANI_news) May 21, 2016
Let’s hope that the BJP opts for NIA probe and exposes the real culprits, whoever that person may be. The senior BJP leader in question has a clean track record. If Mr. Khadse has really been in touch with D company, investigating agencies should file relevant cases against him and show that no one is above law.
While investigating, authorities should also remember how Dawood had recently asked his men to target BJP leaders. We should not forget how Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar had asked Pakistan to help congress in defeating Modi and the BJP. Unfortunately, opportunist politicians and money hungry PR firms combined with journalists can go up to any extent while targeting opponents.
Nitten is a consultant journalist, and has worked with renowned newspapers, news agency in India. If you are looking for desktop journalist, writer, you can email Nitten- firstname.lastname@example.org
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