Kerala seeks help to crack jail calls

Thiruvananthapuram: Terming as "alarming" the incidents of international telephone calls made by prisoners from state jails, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy today said the state would seek the help of a Central investigating agency to probe the calls made if necessary.

As many as 120 mobile phones were seized from prisoners during a recent raid conducted in jails and some of them were found to have been used to make calls to foreign countries, Chandy said in the assembly today. He was replying to an adjournment motion moved by the CPI-M led LDF Opposition, which alleged that the international calls had terrorist links.

A preliminary examination by state cyber-cell officials on 30 recovered phones had revealed that a total of 3,000 calls were made and in some of them calls were made to foreign countries using satellite and other new technology, Chandy said. The calls examinated were made during the last one year, he added. The raids were conducted after jailed former state minister and Kerala Congress (B) leader R Balakrishna Pillai was found to have violated prison rules and used a mobile phone in jail.

"There is no need for the help of National Investigation Agency considering the evidences now available. But, if required the assistance of a Central investigation agency would be sought," Chandy said. Examination of calls made from the remaining 90 mobile phones was yet to be made, he said.

Quoting a report given by the Additional Director General of Police (Prison) Alexander Jacob, Chandy said the report had recommended a probe into the issue by NIA or any other Central investigative agency.Raids in jails would be conducted every two weeks as a first step to check the illegal use of mobile phones, he said. Stating that the government viewed the ADGP report seriously, Chandy assured the house that quick action would be taken on the report.

Seeking leave for the motion, Raju Abraham (CPI-M), alleged that international calls were made to countries such as Pakistan, Somalia, Afghanistan and USA from Kerala jails. It fuelled suspicion that terrorist outfits "have even spread their tentacles to the jails," he said. The modus operandi of those who made such calls was to go to jail by committing petty crimes and then communicate with terrorists both inside and outside the country, he charged. Abraham said the government should take the issue "very seriously as it is a matter concerned with national security". After Chandy`s reply, Speaker G Karthikeyan refused leave for the motion.