In the state which has recorded the highest crime against women and violent crimes last year, do you know what keeps the Assam Police busy? Do you know where the millions of rupees In the name of technology usage by the police authorities are being used? The answer is phone tapping, inflicting a threat to privacy of our conversations. That’s all.
As per information received from reliable sources of Times of Assam, the Assam Police Department had made sure that the telephonic conversations of every Social Activist of the state is being tapped and heard by the control room. This is also true for ex-militants, politicians, NGO workers, Freelancers, some entrepreneurs and each and every Editor of leading dailies of Assam which also includes most Assamese journalists. Surprisingly, non-Assamese journalists and journalists who are puppet of Government are excluded from this tap list. In addition, this is not just limited to phone conversations, but there have been reports of people’s Internet connectivity being monitored by the Assam Police Department using third party vendors.
It is to be mentioned that last year on 17th August, The secretary General of Human Rights Group Manab Adhikar Sangram Samiti (MASS) Aditya Lahkar and his wife Geetanjali were arrested by Assam Police with charges that he had links with ULFA (I). It has been confirmed from sources that the police had made this arrest completely based on telephonic conversations which were recorded and tapped. It is to be noted that the police, till now, had been hiding the details of how or on what basis the arrest of Aditya Lahkar was made.
In developed countries such as USA, tapping telephonic conversations is a big deal. Even corporates such as Credit card callers or Verification companies have to mention to its customers during calling that the call would be recorded, failing which the customer can sue for un-authorized recording. Unfortunately, in the largest Democracy of the world there exists no such legal blanket to protect human rights and privacy of an individual. The Edward Snowden revelation had opened a pandora’s box when he revealed that authorities are spying on the citizens and since then, there have been large scale movements in the west for protection of privacy. Can this be expected in India, is a question only time will answer.
As per sources, this phone tapping is being done using Bypass TAP Technology where in, the call made by a person under surveillance first goes to the Police Control Room (So recording or listening can start) and then it connects to the person being called. On being contacted by Times of Assam, several journalists and social activists who are being phone-tapped expressed anger over this action and condemned the police for trespassing in their privacy.
It has been reported that several of such social activists include prominent figures from literature, music and cultural background. They are being phone tapped under the suspicion of keeping contacts with underground militants such as ULFA and NDFB.
Following through an investigation by Times of Assam for months long, phone numbers of our Chief Editor Dhruba Jyoti Deka are also being tapped ever since he was involved in the peace–talk’s process of ULFA and Government of India led by prominent intellectuals of the state such as Dr Hiren Gohain, as Deka was cousin brother of the then jailed ULFA leader Raju Baruah alias Hitesh Kalita who later joined pro-talk group.
“During the initial days (three years ago), there were many from the underground who contacted me for wanting to coming over ground and join the mainstream. Some came and some didn’t, and gradually the process faded away but my privacy with telephonic conversation has been destroyed forever. Whoever calls me, clearly hears the background noise of the control room and doesn’t hear my voice properly as it is bypassed. Even my BSNL internet connection is also under trace and the tracing is being handled by a Delhi based private company named AVSystems. Being a journalist, I need to attend calls from the globe, and its my right to attend the calls. I am consulting with an senior advocate of Gauhati High Court to file a complaint in High Court against this privacy invading. I have already gathered all the proofs which I obtained officially from BSNL & Reliance,”- lamented Deka.
It must be mentioned that Assam is one of the worst performing states when it comes to law and order. The latest figures of National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) had revealed that Assam topped the chart in crime against women last year with a percentage of 89.54 which is double the national average of around 41.7 per cent previous year! For a comparatively small state with a minimal number of female populations, this number is highly alarming. If this is not enough, Assam reported the highest rate (54.2 per cent) of violent crimes of the total IPC, compared to 11.5% in the national level. Of 16,874 violent crimes Assam recorded in 2011-12, 5,077 were riots, 2,830 arson, 3,812 kidnapping and abductions, 1,716 rapes, 1,368 murders, and 670 attempts to murder, the report revealed.
Yet, the Assam police and the state security forces have been a total failure in maintaining law and order in the state. Whether it is the mass murders in Karbi Hills and BTAD or the record breaking number of thefts taking place in Guwahati, Assam Police has failed almost everywhere. All that the police can do is loot public money. They are involving in all these technology aspects so that they can indulge in more and more corruption, opined a social activist who seemed visibly maddened by the affairs of the state and the lack of any control of state machinery.